Troubled Norwegian Air has been forced to furlough extra staff and trim its network to just a dozen routes after having a second state aid plea rejected,
An additional 1,600 staff will be placed on furlough and the fleet cut to just six aircraft as the loss-making budget carrier seeks alternative solutions in its fight for survival.
Norwegian employed more than 10,000 people prior to Covid-19 but there will be only 600 staff in the coming months, chief executive Jacob Schram disclosed.
The once trailblazer of low fare transatlantic flights from Gatwick has been reduced to operating domestic routes in Norway due to the impact of the pandemic and the failure to secure a fresh government bailout.
The carrier received £250 million-worth of finance at the start of the crisis in March in a deal which required banks and aircraft leasing firms to agree to a £1.2 billion debt for equity swap
But the Oslo government’s industry minister shut the door on additional aid and the prospect of nationalisation, saying: “Norwegian Air has asked for billions of crowns in additional support and the government has concluded that this would not be a responsible use of public funds.”
The airline reacted by moving more employees onto furlough and cutting capacity “following the government’s decision to not support the company financially to get through the corona crisis while simultaneously imposing travel restrictions that actively discourage passengers from travelling”.
The carrier added: “The consequences of the government-imposed travel restrictions are critical and Norwegian needs to keep its running costs to a minimum, while the company continues to work on solutions to survive”.
Chief executive Jacob Schram said following yesterday’s “disappointing” Oslo government announcement that the airline has “no choice but to furlough an additional 1,600 colleagues and park 15 of the 21 aircraft we’ve operated the past months”.
He added: “Recently government-imposed travel restrictions have effectively stifled any hope of a stable and progressive recovery, Norwegian has been hit from all sides by factors outside of our control.
“This is a sad day for everyone at Norwegian and I sincerely apologise to all our colleagues that are now affected, but there is no other alternative.
“Our goal is to keep six aircraft on domestic routes in Norway, and I expect that Norwegian will also receive route support from the Ministry of Transportation, as previously announced.”
The significant route reduction will affect customers who have already booked a flight with Norwegian.
Schram added: “We will do everything we can to offer affected customers alternative travel option and I sincerely apologise for the inconvenience caused by this situation. All affected customers will be notified by us directly.”
Routes to be operated:
Oslo – Alta
Oslo – Bergen
Oslo – Bodø
Oslo – Evenes
Oslo – Haugesund
Oslo – Kirkenes
Oslo – Molde
Oslo – Stavanger
Oslo – Tromsø
Oslo – Trondheim
Oslo – Ålesund
Tromsø – Longyearbyen