Las Vegas proves too hot to handle for Norwegian


Norwegian CEO Bjørn Kjos at London Gatwick in front of one of the company's 787s. Image CC BY 3.0 from http://media.norwegian.com/us/#/images/
Norwegian CEO Bjørn Kjos at London Gatwick in front of one of the company's 787s. Image CC BY 3.0 from http://media.norwegian.com/us/#/images/

Las Vegas is hot in the summer. So hot that Norwegian is cutting back its flights due to performance limitations. With temperatures in the desert frequently exceeding 100 degrees (more than 60 days in 2016) the Norwegian flights were forced to take delays too often, inconveniencing passengers and costing the airline big bucks.

The problem is a combination of aircraft performance and airline choice. All planes suffer from reduced lift performance in hot weather because the air is thinner. Temperatures over 104 used to be a deal-breaker for airlines as the aircraft performance wasn’t typically charted for those extremes. That’s changed lately as more aircraft are certified to higher temperatures but there are trade-offs involved. Operating about 120 degrees is possible but requires higher thrust settings and/or longer runways to get off the ground. The challenge is compounded by Norwegian’s cabin layout.



Norwegian just launched its fourth route from Las Vegas; all will be suspended next summer because of the high temperatures in the desert.
Norwegian just launched its fourth route from Las Vegas; all will be suspended next summer because of the high temperatures in the desert.
Image CC BY 3.0 from http://media.norwegian.com/us/#/images/

Norwegian operates the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner on its four Las Vegas routes (London-Gatwick, Oslo, Stockholm & Copenhagen). The plane’s “default” specification is for 242 seats in a 2-cabin arrangement. Most airlines fly with 200-250 seats on board. Norwegian flies with 292. The extra weight on board from those passengers (and seats and bags) means even the higher thrust option simply wasn’t working for the airline. And so, rather than taking delays to wait for temperatures to cool off in the summer Norwegian will suspend the routes in the 2017 heat, resuming when things cool off again in the fall.



This is not the only airport to suffer the impact of high temperatures. Phoenix SkyHarbor has seen issues in the past. And United Airlines has been known to delay its Newark-Hong Kong departure in peak summer heat as that flight pushes the limits of the 777-200ER. But this is the first time Norwegian has had to cancel a route due to heat. Oopsie.

Added irony for the news: anna.aero just gave Oslo airport an award for the Las Vegas route:

Header image: Norwegian CEO Bjørn Kjos at London Gatwick in front of one of the company’s 787s. Image CC BY 3.0 from http://media.norwegian.com/us/#/images/

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and .

8 Comments

    1. Lighter loads with significantly fewer pax on board. AM runs from the hot and high MEX and ET from ADD. Both also deal with the associated performance hits.

  1. Off the subject, but did you know that your blog is blocked on the Emirates lounges WIFI at DXB?
    Did you piss off someone?

  2. Can’t Norwegian just try for early morning or later evening slots when the temps in LAS would be lower, rather than suspending the whole service?

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