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IAG confirms it will open talks with Norwegian to buy the airline

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IAG, the parent of British Airways, Iberia and Aer Lingus, made a statement to the Stock Exchange on Thursday to confirm rumours that it intends to open negotiations with Norwegian Air Shuttle to buy the airline.  An initial share purchase has already been made.

Norwegian shares have jumped sharply on the news.

This is obviously a major development.  Norwegian has a brand new fleet and has proved an increasingly strong competitor to IAG in the UK.  LEVEL and Vueling are weak low cost competitors in comparison.

International Airlines Group to buy Norwegian Air

With Norwegian recently launching Singapore and Buenos Aires from the UK, it was likely to prove an increasingly strong competitor to British Airways – so why not buy it and snuff it out, at least from the UK?

With Gatwick getting increasingly slot constrained, this would also give IAG an exceptionally strong grip on that airport following the recent purchase of the Monarch slots.  It is also possible that, for monopoly reasons, a Gatwick slot sale would be required.

There is clearly potential to roll LEVEL and Vueling, which has a bad reputation, into Norwegian.

I would expect British Airways to very quickly close its Oakland and Fort Lauderdale routes if any deal does go through, since they are only operated to annoy Norwegian.  Loads on Oakland are reportedly under 50 passengers on some days.

This is the emergency statement issued by IAG after Bloomberg reported the share purchase:

“International Airlines Group (IAG) notes the recent press speculation that it is considering making an offer for Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA (Norwegian).

IAG considers Norwegian to be an attractive investment and has acquired a 4.61 per cent ownership position in the airline (minority investment). 

The minority investment is intended to establish a position from which to initiate discussions with Norwegian, including the possibility of a full offer for Norwegian.

IAG confirms that no such discussions have taken place to date, that it has taken no decision to make an offer at this time and that there is no certainty that any such decision will be made.

A further announcement will be made if appropriate.”

Norwegian has stated in response that it had no knowledge until this morning that IAG had bought any shares in the company and that it has not had any contact from the airline so far.

It is worth noting that the 72-year CEO, Bjorn Kjos, has a 27% shareholding and it will be virtually impossible for IAG to acquire 50.1% without his consent.  The Norwegian state investment fund has a further 9.9% and may vote tactically.  Whatever happens is likely to take a number of months, but the Aer Lingus acquisition proved that IAG is prepared to play a long game.


How to earn Avios points from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (June 2022)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards.

Until 18th July 2022 there is an astonishing special offer on these cards. You get 50,000 Avios on the Avios Plus Mastercard and 10,000 Avios on the free Avios Mastercard. You can apply here. We strongly recommend getting the Avios Plus card whilst this offer is running.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

50,000 Avios for signing up (A CRAZY SPECIAL OFFER!) and an upgrade voucher for spending ….. Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

10,000 Avios for signing up (SPECIAL OFFER) and an upgrade voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:

British Airways BA Premium Plus American Express Amex credit card

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable card perk – the 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

British Airways BA Amex American Express card

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending £12,000 Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points.

SPECIAL OFFER: The sign-up bonus on Amex Gold is increased from 20,000 Membership Rewards points to 30,000 Membership Rewards points until 19th July 2022. This card is free for the first year.

American Express Amex Gold

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 30,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

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Run your own business?

We recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,000 Avios.

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You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies and has a 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express card

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.

Amex Platinum Business American Express

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for our latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios this month from offers and promotions.)

Comments (99)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Adam says:

    If they make Avios the currency of Norwegian Rewards then it could be great for Avios collectors.

    • Lady London says:

      Nooooo! I’d sooner have 20pc cash credit back off flex tickets… Although perhaps that particular percentage is unsustainable

  • Jorge says:

    I hope this doesn’t move forward! I’m flying Norwegian most of the time because of their loyalty scheme, which is a lot more generous compared to BA/IB. I make a return trip every month back to my home country (Spain), so thanks to it I get free seat selection + free checked in baggage (very handful for the Christmas/Summer holidays) every time.I fear BA will turn this 12 and 18 flight benefit into a 50 flight benefit, which I’d really hate.

  • Barry McNally says:

    Norwegian has faced a lot of speculation over its low cost business model, especially it’s leasing operation of the problem laden A320 NEO. O’Leary said so himself last year. If IAG then make Gatwick a low cost hub for Norwegian / Level / Vueling, then BA might be able to return to the premium airline space operating only from LHR, instead of trying bridge across both sectors

    • Tony says:

      Norwegian have yet to operate Airbus aircraft. They are an all Boeing airline with some LR Airbus on order.

    • Jamie says:

      I suspect Gatwick Airport would be a little bit disappointed with that – they want to be London’s Premier Airport but wont achieve that if 80% of the flights are by low cost operators…they need a mix.

  • Luca says:

    Muscle flexing, and bad for the consumer. Not a fan of this deal.

  • Frenske says:

    I fly regularly to Oslo and BA is always overfull, stuffy and expensive and SAS slightly cheaper but still overfull and stuffy and usually old planes.
    Norwegian is breath of fresh air: cheaper, newer planes with reasonable pleasant interior and usually the planes are not overfull. There is free WiFi too; fast enough to read articles, whatsapp messaging.

    • Londoner says:

      SAS has started using brand new A320neo on some of their OSL/LHR flights. I flew OSL-LHR on Saturday in a 2 month old A320n. The plane was not full either, and I paid 43 GBP for economy with luggage. Seems like that is pretty hard to beat, but no WIFI on SAS yet though.

      • Rob says:

        When I flew from Lapland to Stockholm, the SAS flight going 30 mins after the Norwegian flight was literally twice as much. No surprise what we booked.

      • Graham Walsh says:

        Also these new planes are registered EI using SAS Ireland for some reason

    • Lady London says:

      Thank you @Frenske I will use Norwegian on my next positioning to Oslo to take a Qatar flight.

  • Lee says:

    BA are stopping the Oakland route already, the last flight is 30th October

    • Steve says:

      It’s only cancelled for the winter, and is due to restart next April, at least in theory.

  • HappyHarry says:

    Better buy those cheap exOSL WTP fares while we still can 😀

  • Ruben says:

    OT does anyone know why on sixt my driver they only allow 3 passengers on the standard and luxury car options. Was looking to give them a try for an airport pickup at LHR but need 4 passengers to be picked up. When I called them they explained the the back seat has a middle console that cannot be retracted therefore only allowing 2 people to seat in the back. sounds like a very buzzare reason. anyone had a similar experience?

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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