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Norwegian will ground 85% of flights and temporarily lay off 7,300 staff

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Following our updates this morning regarding Virgin Atlantic cutting 75% of flights and IAG’s suspension of 75% of services across the group, Norwegian has just announced that it will be cancelling 85% of its flights and temporarily laying off approximately 90% of its workforce.

The statement is below but here is a summary:

Norwegian will temporarily lay off more than 7,300 staff, which is approximately 90 per cent of its workforce, including pilots, cabin crew, maintenance and administrative staff

Thousands of flights have already been cancelled.

As of March 21, Norwegian will fly a reduced domestic schedule in Norway between Nordic capitals and some European flights will continue to be operated

All intercontinental flights are cancelled except between Scandinavia and Thailand (last flights at end of March)

The limited schedule will remain in place until at least April 17 but will be reviewed on a regular basis in line with changes in travel restrictions and demand

Customers who are directly affected by route changes and cancellations will be contacted by Norwegian via text message or e-mail

Norwegian will gradually cancel the majority of flights over the coming week and are prioritising scheduled flights that will enable customers to return to their home countries. They are also working with authorities to arrange flights for stranded passengers.

Norwegian’s CEO Jacob Schram has emphasized that the staff layoff is temporary and that he intends to retain as many employees as possible once normalcy has returned. The Norwegian authorities have also pledged to implement measures to protect the aviation industry in Norway.

Here is an extract from the Norwegian statement:

“What our industry is now facing is unprecedented and critical as we are approaching a scenario where most of our airplanes will be temporarily grounded. Several governments in Europe have already said that they will do everything they can to ensure that their airlines can continue to fly when society returns to normalcy. We appreciate that the authorities of Norway have communicated that they will implement all necessary measures to protect aviation in Norway, consequently securing crucial infrastructure and jobs,” said CEO Jacob Schram of Norwegian.

Norwegian has already discontinued a significant number of its flights and the main priority this week is to maintain as many scheduled flights as possible to ensure that customers are able to immediately return to their home destinations. The company will also work closely with the authorities to arrange flights for the benefit of stranded passengers, if necessary. Customers who are directly affected by route changes and cancellations will be contacted by Norwegian via text message or e-mail.

“We understand that this extraordinary situation is stressful for our customers, but I want to assure everyone that we are working around the clock to ensure that everyone is taken care of in the best way possible at this time,” said Schram.

As a result of most of the company’s planes being parked, Norwegian unfortunately has to temporarily lay off more than 7,300 colleagues in total which equates to approximately 90 per cent of its workforce, which includes pilots, cabin crew, maintenance and administrative staff. The layoff procedures vary from country to country and Norwegian’s team is already in constructive dialogues with union and HSE representatives at all its locations across the network.

“It is indeed with a heavy heart we have to temporarily lay off more than 7,300 of our colleagues, but we unfortunately have no choice. However, I want to emphasize that this is temporary, because when the world returns to normalcy my goal is to keep as many of our dedicated colleagues as possible,” said Schram.

Norwegian’s route network changes

-Thousands of flights have already been cancelled.

-As of March 21, the company will primarily fly a reduced scheduled domestically in Norway and between the Nordic capitals. Some European flights will be operated. All intercontinental are cancelled except flights between Scandinavia and Thailand (last flights at end of March).

-All flights that will be operating will be available for sale on Norwegian.com.

-Limited schedule will remain in place until at least April 17 but will be reviewed on a regular basis in line with changes in travel restrictions and demand.

Norwegian will continue to share updates with its customers, the financial market and the media once new measures are implemented.

Detailed reduced schedule – starting March 25

Norway:

Oslo -Bergen/Stavanger/Trondheim: 4 daily departures

Oslo – Ålesund/Bodø/Evenes/Tromsø: 2 daily departures

Oslo -Alta/Kirkenes: 1 daily departure

OSL – Haugesund/Kristiansand/Molde: 1 daily departure

Oslo – Svalbard: 3 weekly depatures

Oslo -Stockholm/Copenhagen: 2 daily departures

Oslo – Helsinki: 4 weekly departures

Stavanger – Bergen: 1 daily departure

Bergen – Trondheim: 1 daily departure

Sweden:

Stockholm – Kiruna: 4 weekly departures

Stockholm – Luleå/Umeå: 2 weekly departures

Stockholm – Helsinki: 2 daily departures

Stockholm – Copenhagen: 2 daily departures

Stockholm – Oslo: 2 daily departures

Finland:

Helsinki – Kittilä: 6 weekly departures

Helsinki – Oulu: 1 daily departure

Helsinki – Rovaniemi: 1 daily departure

Helsinki – Oslo: 4 weekly departures

Denmark:

Copenhagen – Oslo: 2 daily departures

Comments (16)

  • Tom says:

    Is there anywhere I can spend my cashpoints except on Norwegian flights? I can’t see them making it out of this period..!

    • stevenhp1987 says:

      Having a look at the Norwegian website… nope! Only useful for tickets, seat selection etc.

      I too, will be surprised if Norwegian makes it out. I bet they wish they could turn back the clocks and accept BAs offer now…

    • Martin Fisher says:

      Lets focus on the important stuff.

      • Luckyjim says:

        I wouldn’t be on this website if i was focusing on the important stuff.

  • Voltron says:

    Seems very unlikely that they will make it through now, shame as they were a good airline IMO.

    I guess this is the beginning of the end for alot of companies, I thought the financial crises of 07/08 was bad, but looks like Corona 2020 will be alot worse.

    • Lady London says:

      Potentially a very long recovery cycle.
      This kind of shock is vicious as a lot of fundamentally good players like Norwegian are a bad loss. They had bad luck with their equipment issues that were not their fault, and ran into timing of various events.

      If good players can be lost, are we sure to lose all the bad ones, as well, at least?

      I’d like to see certain Private Equity investors that have been active in ripping far more off than they should have, disappear too. Bet we can’t hope for that. They are their money will now be in their tax havens with the drawbridge pulled up.

  • Mike P says:

    I don’t see how Norwegian can possibly come back from this. I’m also not terribly clear how one can be temporarily laid off; either you have a job or you don’t have a job. It isn’t reasonable to expect employees not to go and find alternative employment and just wait to see what happens with Norwegian.

    • Ian says:

      It’s a common employment mechanism in the Nordics (permittering in Norwegian) – which is broadly the equivalent of being furloughed in the US. The employees will likely to entitled to take other work if they find it, they are entitled to unemployment benefits etc, but the company also has a duty to keep them in the loop and genuinely take them back as/when capacity allows. There will be a sunset clause so that it can’t go on forever. Basically, it’s done in such a way that in dire circs the company can save cash on salaries, BUT it cannot be used to just replace them with cheaper labour.

      • DS says:

        7300 is the total in all countries where they operate.
        From news release:
        “The layoff procedures vary from country to country and Norwegian’s team is already in constructive
        dialogues with union and HSE representatives at all its locations across the network.”

  • Matt B says:

    I would imagine the Norweigan govt will as for permission from the EU to support them.

    • Simon says:

      They are finished IMO.

      I think all governments have their hands full at the moment – putting Norwegian on a sound footing might be terribly expensive, and sets an awkward precedent if the coronavirus makes a comeback in a second wave like the Spanish flu did (maybe unlikely, but could not be ruled out). What then?

      Flew on them a few times and their fares were impressive and they were certainly no worse than any other low cost airline. Just not sure there is ever going to be a viable business in there.

      • Qwertyknowsbest says:

        Was it Warren Buffet who said something like, when the tide goes out you see who has been swimming naked?

      • Callum says:

        Business/treasury/finance experts within the government are, without a shadow of a doubt, actively looking right now at what they can do to support Norwegian companies.

        Not only is the economy crucial right now, I’m not sure what else those people are going to be doing. You want the health experts deciding health policies, not the economists!

    • marcw says:

      They will. But only for then Norwegian section. I guess Norwegian taxpayers aren´t there to subsidise London-USA traffic.

  • Dave S says:

    Swissport at MAN have just laid off, without pay for 3 weeks at least, a load of employees, so it’s more than Norwegian here.