Norwegian to scrap US budget flights from Edinburgh
Budget airline Norwegian is to axe the last of its three US routes from Edinburgh which were launched only last year, The Scotsman can reveal.
The carrier is also scrapping two of its five other routes from the capital, to Barcelona and Tenerife.
They will end next March, halving Norwegian’s route network from Edinburgh from six to three.
It is understood the airline is also closing its base at Edinburgh Airport.
One crew member said: "Closing Edinburgh base to all pilots and cabin crew."
The SNP has failed to secure opposition support and the plans have also been delayed by the need to win EU approval for retaining Inverness Airport's exemption from the tax.
It would have seen the charge reduced per passenger on flights to the US from £75 to around £37.50.
APD is not charged on flights into the UK.
The airline launched flights from Edinburgh to Stewart in New York State, Providence in Rhode Island and Bradley in Connecticut in June last year.
But it announced in January that the Bradley service would end two months later, and in April that the Providence flights would be grounded in October.
The cuts will leave the airline with just three Scandinavian destinations from Edinburgh - Copenhagen, Oslo and Stockholm.
BACKGROUND: Norwegian to axe a US route from Edinburgh over tax cut delaysA Norwegian spokesman told The Scotsman: "After careful consideration, we have decided to withdraw our transatlantic routes.
"Air passenger duty was the main factor, as it meant that fares were higher than we’d like them to be, which affected the profitability of these routes.
"When we compare it to performance on identical routes from Ireland (where there’s no APD), fares are lower, and profitability is higher in those markets compared to Scotland.
"Our Edinburgh routes to Spain will also be withdrawn from next summer.
"None of these summer 2019 flights are currently on sale.
"The cuts are a reminder to everyone of what is at stake for Scotland’s connectivity if the APD issue isn’t tackled."
BACKGROUND: Second US route from Edinburgh halted by Norwegian AirThe airline said its US routes had been launched "with the prospect of a reduction in air passenger taxes that was unfortunately postponed by The Scottish Government and this has led us to fully withdraw our transatlantic services."
It added: "We continually monitor and evaluate routes across our network, and as such we have also decided to withdraw routes from Edinburgh to Barcelona and Tenerife allowing us to focus on maintaining better-performing flights to Scandinavia.
"Edinburgh-based crew will be offered potential relocation to the airline's other bases."
Three other airlines fly to New York from Edinburgh and Norwegian faced multiple airline competition on the other routes it is ending.
A spokesman for Edinburgh Airport said: “This is a desperately disappointing decision, entirely caused by a complete failure of the Scottish Government to live up to its commitment to reduce the tax paid by Scots travellers.
“This failure diminishes choice for passengers and is a shot in the arm for European cities already relishing Britain’s isolation from mainland Europe.
“It is not too late to deliver on commitments made before Scotland loses out further, both in terms of jobs and tourism revenue.
“The administrations in Holyrood and Westminster must come together now and focus not just on why things can’t be done, but on fixing this intolerable situation.”