Norwegian (DY, Oslo Gardermoen) has handed back to Airport Coordination Limited (ACL), the slot coordinator at London Heathrow, the six slots which it had been awarded at the gateway in December last year for the upcoming Summer 2020 season. The low-cost carrier (LCC) had originally requested 14 slots at the heavily-congested airport.

An ACL spokesperson confirmed to ch-aviation that "the slots have been returned to the pool at Heathrow" and that "they will be reallocated in accordance with the slot regulation."

"We would like to thank both ACL and Heathrow for granting Norwegian three slots for the Summer 2020 schedule," a Norwegian spokesperson told ch-aviation. "After careful consideration, which took into account the current fleet pressures placed on the airline by well-documented issues with a specific Rolls-Royce Trent engine type and the continued grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, we have decided to return the slots as they do not fit into our network plan at this current time. As the airline moves from a strategy of growth to profitability, we look forward to having future discussions with ACL and Heathrow."

The decision to abandon its Heathrow slot allocation reflects the current strategy at the LCC, which is prioritising profitability over network growth. The Nordic airline recently agreed to sell its South American venture Norwegian Air Argentina (DN, Buenos Aires Aeroparque) to Indigo Partners, and has axed its long-haul network from Stockholm Arlanda and Copenhagen Kastrup.

Norwegian is the third-largest operator at London Gatwick, with 11% of weekly capacity, behind British Airways (BA, London Heathrow) in the second spot, which controls 19% of seats, and easyJet (U2, London Luton), which is the biggest carrier at the London airport, commanding 40% of weekly capacity.