By Brian Maass
(CBS4) — Less than two months after inaugurating year-round non-stop flights between Denver and Paris, CBS4 has learned that Norwegian Air has decided to cut those flights out for nearly half the year.
“As with any airline, we cannot operate unprofitable routes, and therefore decided to seasonally adjust the service to when the demand is strong,” said airline spokesman Anders Lindstrom. He said Norwegian Air will only operate the flights between Denver and Paris from the end of March through the end of October.
The airline is dropping the service for the other five months of the year.
“Norwegian’s original intent was to operate the route year-round, but advance booking figures showed that whilst the route was popular during the summer months, demand was significantly less during the winter season,” said Lindstrom.
The airline has already begun cancelling flights, which only began April 9, leaving some Denver passengers scrambling.
Mary Smith was planning to return to Denver from a Paris wedding in November and had already booked her flight on Norwegian. She recently learned her flight was cancelled.
“This is a total outrage,” she said. “Honestly, I don’t know what to do.”
She said Norwegian is obligated to put her on another flight with another airline but, so far, she says the airline has given her the runaround.
“There are available flights that are more comparable to the one I bought. That’s their obligation. They have offered no real solution except to fly us all the way to LA, long layover there, then to Denver late at night.”
Ironically, the much ballyhooed flights between Denver and Paris quickly turned into a headache for Mayor Michael Hancock and DIA after CBS4 revealed that for the inaugural flight celebration, some DIA employees flew business class to and from Paris on other airlines, racking up round-trip costs of as much as $16,000.
After being confronted with what CBS4 had found, Hancock responded, ”The costs associated with booking this trip were too high. Earlier booking and a return on the same airline would have been inconvenient but would have mitigated the costs of these flights… The airport must demonstrate greater accountability to the public and, when feasible, book these trips with every effort toward limiting what they spend. Thus, we are making changes going forward to address these concerns.”
Stacey Stegman, DIA spokesperson, told CBS4 the Norwegian cancellations are not unusual.
“This is not uncommon. Seventy-five percent of the travel demand between Denver and Paris takes place between April and October and those are the months the flight will operate”. Stegman said DIA officials learned of the cutback in service on Wednesday. So they have been selling for nearly one year and unfortunately the demand for winter has not met their expectations. This change in operation from year-round to seasonal service is not unusual in the aviation industry as demand fluctuates throughout the year and over time.”
Lindstrom said passengers with cancelled bookings will be notified tomorrow and will be able to choose either a full refund or rebook through the airlines website.
“Norwegian sincerely apologizes to our customers affected for any inconvenience caused, but hope to accommodate their travel needs.”
He said Norwegian’s Denver-London route will be unaffected and will operate as a year-round service.