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Norwegian to abolish a US route due to postponement of reduction of air taxes

Norwegian is set to abolish its flights to Bradley in Connecticut in March and reduce frequency on two other US routes after Ministers postponed a reduction in air taxes.

Its flights from Edinburgh to Stewart as well as to Providence in Rhode Island, would also be cut down from daily to just four each week.

An industry expert called the routes’ “load factors” as “poor” with the Providence route garnering just 58%, 66% for Bradley and 71% for Connecticut.

The Scottish Government had planned to cut the air departure tax in half back in April. But the minority administration’s proposal faced opposition from other parties at Holyrood.

Derek Mackay, who functioned as Finance Secretary at the time, said back in October that the plans were placed on hold because they needed approval from the European Union to continue exemption from the tax for airports in the Highlands and Islands.

A spokesperson for the airline said:

“Following our launch of affordable transatlantic routes from Edinburgh last year, the prospect of a reduction in air passenger taxes meant we had been planning for continued future growth in Scotland.

“The Scottish Government’s postponement of a reduction to air passenger taxes was therefore deeply disappointing and has led us to review existing transatlantic services from Edinburgh, with the decision to cut the route to Connecticut and to reduce the frequency of flights to the Boston and New York areas.

“We will be reallocating this capacity into other markets where air passenger taxes do not present a barrier to our growth.”

The airline continued:

“We still see huge potential at Edinburgh, and due to passenger demand we will be maintaining seven flights every week. “However, we urge the Scottish Government to quickly resurrect plans for a reduction in air passenger taxes which would re-open the door to more flights and lower fares for passengers and a boost to Scotland’s connectivity.”

A spokesman for Edinburgh Airport meanwhile, bemoaned the development, saying: “This is deeply disappointing for both Edinburgh and Scotland.

“The Scottish Government’s commitment to cut aviation tax has factored in a number of airlines’ investment decisions as it allows us to compete with other countries.

“What we see here are politicians actively costing Scotland connectivity and harming the economy. We’ve lost a plane, a route and jobs.

“Importantly, we’ve also signaled to airlines that Scotland is perhaps not as attractive as it seems.

“The Scottish Government must double its efforts to resolve the issues surrounding Air Departure Tax and fulfill its promise to airlines and Scottish passengers.”

A spokesperson for the Scottish Government meanwhile, had these to say:

“We have set out a clear aim to reduce the burden of air passenger taxation by 50 per cent by the end of this parliamentary term, and abolish it entirely when public finances allow.

“We will continue to work in partnership with Norwegian and other airlines, and with all Scotland’s airports, to grow the number of international routes to and from Scotland.

“To protect the economy and connectivity of the Highlands and Islands, the introduction of air departure tax in Scotland has been deferred until the issues raised in relation to the exemption for flights departing from the Highlands and Islands have been resolved.

“The Scottish Government and UK Government will work closely in order to achieve this as early as possible. The UK Government will maintain the application of air passenger duty in Scotland in the interim.”

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