Disruptive Norwegian Air exits long-haul travel

17 Janvier, 2021, 07:48 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • Norwegian Air UK Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner G-CKOF

Long-haul low-priced legend Norwegian is set to ditch the long-haul side of its business as part of its ongoing restructuring process.

One of Europe's biggest airlines, Norwegian Air, plans to abandon long-haul flights between the United States and Europe and focus on building a scaled-down European network as it struggles to stay afloat during the coronavirus crisis.

The airline will continue to meet its customers' needs by offering competitive fares across a broad range of domestic routes in Norway, across the Nordics and to key European destinations.

Norwegian will fall back on its short haul network to "form the basis of a future resilient business model".

"By focusing our operation on a short haul network, we aim to attract existing and new investors, serve our customers and support the wider infrastructure and travel industry in Norway and across the Nordics and Europe", said Schram.

It hopes to cut its debt to around 20 billion crowns and raise 4-5 billion through a mix of new shares and hybrid capital.

Norwegian's strategy is to serve the core markets with about 50 narrow-body aircraft in 2021 and to increase the fleet to 70 aircraft in 2020. In response to the Covid pandemic, the group grounded its entire fleet of Boeing 787s in March previous year and began returning airplanes to their lessors this month.

The coronavirus pandemic has had a profound impact on operations, the airline said.

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Around 2,160 jobs will be lost around the world - including at Gatwick - as the firm also has longhaul bases in France, Italy, Spain and the US.

Norwegian's "frequently weak balance sheets have been partially due to its push for rapid route expansion- one of the fastest-ever in the industry- and partially due to bad luck", CN reported, noting that "repeated mechanical issues out of the airline's control hobbled its fleet, first with the engines on its Boeing 787 Dreamliners, which had to be grounded for repairs, then with its Boeing 737 Max planes".

"Our focus is to rebuild a strong, profitable Norwegian so that we can safeguard as many jobs as possible".

Passengers whose future bookings have now been canceled "will be contacted directly and will be refunded", Norwegian said.

It says it has received "concrete interest' in the private placement".

A statement from the British Air Line Pilots Association (BALPA) said the company would shed all 300 of its UK-based pilots and another 700 of its London Gatwick-based employees.

"The airline has failed for several reasons but there can be no blame apportioned to the pilot, crew or other staff groups", he added.

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