Bits: Norwegian rebuffs full IAG takeover bid, 50% off Iberia Express Avios tickets, topbonus closes down

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News in brief:

Norwegian rejects two formal takeover bids from BA’s parent IAG

A few weeks ago we reported that IAG, BA’s parent, had bought a 4.6% stake in Norwegian Air Shuttle with a view to launching a full takeover.

On Friday morning, Norwegian issued a statement to say that IAG had made two formal bids to take control of Norwegian.  Norwegian has rejected both of them “on the basis that they undervalued NAS and its prospects”.

This is, of course, a very similar situation to what happened with Aer Lingus.  Various initial bids were rejected until IAG made a series of concessions and guarantees that were attractive to the Irish Government.

It is a different game this time.  The 72-year CEO of Norwegian, Bjorn Kjos, has a 27% shareholding and it will be virtually impossible for IAG to acquire 50.1% without his consent.  This is why the Norwegian share price fell on Friday rather than rising, which is what you would expect to happen if the possibility of a juicy knock-out bid was expected.

IAG is not known for overpaying, and Kjos is clearly – at least in public – determined not to sell unless he achieves what others see as an unrealistic valuation.  IAG may have to settle for its existing 4.6% stake and wait to see if Norwegian hits serious financial trouble.

Norwegian rejects two bids from IAG

50% off Iberia Express redemptions to Madrid from the UK regions

Iberia Express, Iberia’s regional operation, is currently offering a 50% discount on flights to Madrid in Business Class.

It is valid from Manchester, Cardiff and Birmingham.  A return trip on an off-peak date will cost 15,000 Avios which is the same as you would normally pay for Economy.

You need to book by 31st May for travel before 31st July.  This is not a bad excuse for a weekend break if you live near any of those three cities.

I reviewed Iberia Express in Business Class last year and was impressed – see here.  You can see what they offer in terms of surprisingly decent food and drink here.

You can only book this deal via Iberia Plus.  You can use ‘Combine My Avios’ to move your points from BA or into Iberia Plus.

Your Iberia Plus account must be ‘active’.  An ‘active’ account is over 90 days old and has earned at least 1 Avios.  You cannot open an Iberia Plus account today and take advantage of this deal.

More details can be found on the Iberia website here.

Iberia Express Avios redemptions sale

topbonus placed in liquidation

The end is finally here for topbonus, the old airberlin frequent flyer scheme.

Whilst airberlin went into receivership last year, topbonus was a separate business which was 70% owned by Etihad.

Most loyalty schemes are cash cows, because the scheme is paid by third parties for points which are not redeemed, creating a cash outlay, for months or years.  This was not the case with airberlin.  To stop the airline bleeding cash, topbonus was not charging airberlin for miles issued on its flights until the point they were redeemed.

When airberlin went bust, topbonus had a huge liability to its members but no money to fund it with.

Ex-members were recently invited to make a claim for the value of their miles to the receiver, but this will not be settled until 2020 and is likely to only be for cents on the Euro.  You still have until 15th May to make a claim if you have not done so.

You can find out more on the topbonus website here.

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

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  1. Paul says:

    Anyone got experience of the ‘any item’ from the Buy on board menu for business from Manchester? Do they link it what you can have?

  2. Theres nothing vegetarian on the menu!! Apart from nachos and peanuts!

    • Worzel says:

      Why destroy your own business KP? :).

      I’ll help you though:

      On an EZY flight a week ago, an announcement came out, that someone on board had an allergy, and that the crew would not be serving peanuts.

      We were asked not to open any bags- if we we had the them!

      Might take boats and trains next time………… 🙂 .

      • Lady London says:

        I think I was on that flight.
        And yet funnily enough I also read in an article online at that same time, that the substance in peanuts that causes the problem is not airborne ?

    • callum says:

      I once had an interesting discussion with a waiter in Spain who insisted the sauce with small chunks of ham in it was vegetarian because “you can barely see the meat”…

      There’s lots of delicious vegetarian food in Spain, but it can sometimes be hard to find!

      • Catalan says:

        “Couldn’t you have wafer thin ham then?” :-))

      • Mustapha Beaghuan says:

        Bit like when I went to an American fast food franchise in Westfield Stratford and asked for a ham sandwich and they said they only server turkey ham. I said, no I wanted real ham and got told by an angry fanchisee manager that it’s better than real ham. I told him I’m the customer and decide what I spend my money on and I don’t want turkey ham and walked out.

        • Lady London says:

          Well done.

          Another blow struck against American imperialism.

          I can;t stand so-called “turkey ham” either.

        • Thomas Howard says:

          Its “better” because its halal. The manager was saving you from jahannam, how could that not be better? 😉

    • David says:

      I was on an Iberia (mainline) business class domestic flight in Spain (no meal/snack choice). When I declined the snack offered – as none of the three small tapas dishes were vegetarian, I was asked why. I said why (vegetarian, none of these are vegi).

      I was asked if there was something ‘medically’ wrong with me that meant I couldn’t eat meat.
      Then another cabin crew member appear to also chastise / mock me for not eating meat. Talking VERY loudly about it being abnormal.

      Now the shocking bit – the above has happened to be 3 times with IB! (different crews, different routes). I point out I wasn’t making a big deal about the decline, but I did say why (any decent organisation would track reasons why customers were declining).

      But the mocking – including on one occasion a cabin crew member proceeding to eat the meal in front of me – to ‘prove it won’t kill me’.

      Iberia have conveniently lost the complaints each time – including the one submitted multiple times when they claimed to have lost it when I chased for a follow up.

      A bit like the complaint where I was a witness to racism another passenger received from cabin crew. Also, strangely lost.

  3. Alan says:

    Damn, really annoying that Edinburgh is excluded from this Iberia deal 🙁 Mind you when searching for flights yesterday the availability was totally different on IB vs BA websites – the former could only see economy availability (incl ‘Blue’ class), the latter could only see business!

    • Mike L says:

      But it doesn’t surprise me tbh. We get shafted all the time. First, the alcohol pricing – Amex has a £20 off £75 purchase at Majestic wine but it’s not valid in Scotland due to that buffoon Sturgeon . Why exclude Edinburgh from the Iberia express offer ?

      • Sandra says:

        Agree with all of that!

      • Anna says:

        I buy all my spirits abroad as I won’t even pay the English rate of duty! Yet those countries don’t seem to have a worse alcohol problem than the UK…

        • CV3V says:

          i am more concerned by the sugar tax! but chocolate runs to France doesn’t sound right.

        • Callum says:

          I don’t think the argument is that our alcohol problem is caused by cheap prices, but that increasing the price is a possible way to reduce it.

        • Anna says:

          People will spend any amount of money to feed an addiction. I can’t see how impoverishing families is the way forward.

        • Anna says:

          And of course more of it will just be shoplifted!

      • CV3V says:

        Nothing to do with minimum alcohol pricing, alcohol ‘promotions’ e.g. multi buys have been banned in Scotland since the Alcohol (Scotland) Act 2010. As another example of this, the barman can’t ask you if you ‘want another’, its been the case since that legislation was enacted.

      • Axel says:

        Anyone know any lucrative van hire deals around Edinburgh?. Im planning a booze gathering trip to Berwick next weekend to avoid the Krankie tax.

        • sigma421 says:

          Unless you’re a huge fan of high strength cider then I doubt it’d be cost effective. The policy is not an additional tax, rather a floor price per unit of alcohol sold. To be honest, I highliy doubt that much of the alcohol that the HFP reading demographic buys will be caught up in this.

        • John says:

          How on earth is this sensible?
          Reminds me of my old man, he used to drive (many) miles for fuel in order to save a few pence per litre

      • Lady London says:

        Perhaps because Iberia is already getting enough business from Edinburgh? Promotions are normally intended to increase business rather than incentivise where flying is already being done.

        • JamesB says:

          Probably, I think they just operate a small plane on the route.

      • JamesB says:

        Great for your liver…but bad for your blood pressure.and your mental health.

  4. Urty says:


    Doe anybody know which terminal QA will fly out of at Gatwick airport when the flights go live later this month?


    • Nick says:

      There is no airline with IATA code QA, so how they can fly from Gatwick is anyone’s guess.

    • Jack says:

      Assuming you mean Qatar, they will use North Terminal

      • Urty says:

        Yes, I meant Qatar Airways.

      • Lady London says:

        Perhaps they’ll do enough business at Gatwick North Terminal to build one of their very nice lounges there? I hope so, there’s only Number 1 if you’re not using the Virgin lounge and Number 1 seems to want to surcharge for prebooking an awful lot of the time now, in order for you to get in. Methinks another decent lounge at Gatwick North would help a lot.

        • Cate ⛱️ says:

          Doubtful. QA have been a little sneaky on the advertising with their new flights from LGW.

          On 3(?) flights you get on the aircraft at LGW whilst on the other 3(?) you actually get on a bus at Gatwick which takes you to LHR and board a LHR routed aircraft.

    • You would guess South but, no, I’ve not seen it written anywhere.

      • Taza says:

        Neither have I, i am flying Doha – Gatwick next month and would love to take advantage of the cheap lounge access posted yesterday but have no idea which terminal I’ll be flying into since the route is so new!

        Thanks for all your inputs

      • Mr Flump says:

        Definitely North Terminal, all the signage is already there on the ‘which terminal?’ posters, etc.

  5. Tony says:

    Ref the IB deal – if you can find availability -remember that BHX is easy & quick to reach from a large swathe of London.

    And the arrivals process is swift, too. Landed there last week, 18 mins from wheels down to stepping onto a train and that included immigration, too.

  6. Nick says:

    Rob – BIG correction. IAG made two INformal bids which were rejected. If you listen to the Q&A Willie held, someone asked him directly why he said he hadn’t bid when Norwegian said he had. He very clearly said “we have not made a formal bid”… and I don’t think even he would lie to the City.

    • There are different definitions of ‘formal’. Was there a number written down on a piece of paper? Yes. I count that as ‘formal’. Was it a formal bid in the City context, ie full offer document posted to shareholders? No.

    • Lady London says:

      and also let’s be fair I yawned a bit at that statement from Norwegian. That’s a standard response drafted by investment bankers for their clients to give on a first or second bid. Even if the price was OK, that response would have been given. It’s a bit of a standardized dance really.

  7. Ammar says:

    Ot – just to check which is the best lounge at hong kong to check out, flying tonight with ba in club world. Wife has silver status.
    I think the wing is the best I have heard but never been before….advice welcome.

  8. Doreen says:

    Rob … that photo bears absolutely no resemblance to Iberia Express Business ! Is perhaps it the new Iberia Premium Economy ? Unless you get the bulkhead seats, max seat pitch is 30in and I believe it is even less in Economy.

  9. Lady London says:

    Btw : Vaguely not OT as Etihad also has a 49%? share in them, Alitalia has been sending and advertising return fares to Italy, that are considerably lower cash fares than previously in the past couple of months. £68 return seen advertised today. Until very recent months would have been £110-120.

  10. Tilly says:

    OT – I’m flying back from YYZ to LHR next Sunday (13th). Tried to reserve my seats in advance as 7 days away now (BA bronze) this morning but MMB still showing a charge to reserve seats. The only thing I can think of is the time difference between Toronto and here but even with that it is already early hours of Sunday there. The flight is a late one, is the 7 days in advance in hours (168 hours)?

    Has anyone else had experience of this? Any suggestions please?


    • Tilly, I think it probably 7 days ahead local time wherever the flight is departing from.. So Sunday evening Toronto time at whatever time the flight is supposed to depart. There could be a short delay after that as well.

      • Tilly says:

        Thanks Lyn. I’ll do it first thing tomorrow morning then as not going to be crazy enough to wait up until 3am tonight.

        • Stu N says:

          Yes -it’s exactly 7 days out based on time of departure. In practice it seems to be the start of the hour that hit T-168, so for example if departure was 1545 BST next Monday you could nab seats from 1500ish BST tomorrow.

  11. RussellH says:

    > The 72-year CEO of Norwegian, Bjorn Kjos, has a 27% shareholding and it will be virtually
    > impossible for IAG to acquire 50.1% without his consent.

    Is that really true? Are the other shareholders, excluding IAG and the Norwegian state investment fund (9.9%) really so keen to hold on? I would have thought that a significant proportion would jump at the chance of a clean exit into IAG, which, whatever you may think of its service levels, is a far more stable business proposition!

    IAG also pays a dividend; I cannot imagine that Norwegian does!

    • If the public shareholders were not behind Kjos they could have sold at any point.

      • RussellH says:

        Unless they have been holding on for an offer from someone else, thinking that that was bound to be a better deal than selling in the open market. Even though they fell 10% on the latest news, they are still around 100% up on where they were before IAG announced their holding.
        TBH, I cannot imagine anyone holding the shares for the long term with that kind of performance.
        And if Kjos has a heart attack, or a stroke (not impossible at his age), then surely all bets are off?

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