Norwegian has announced the acquisition of fellow Norwegian airline Widerøe.
Norwegian CEO Geir Karlsen called it a “milestone in Norwegian aviation history”.
Widerøe has historically been close to SAS, and you can earn and spend SAS EuroBonus points on its flights. Whilst Norwegian has promised to keep the two airlines separate, with both brands continuing to exist, it would be surprising if the network did not evolve to favour Widerøe / Norwegian connections over Widerøe / SAS. Historically Widerøe has had a business focus whilst Norwegian is generally seen as a seasonal leisure carrier.
The headline price is $105m subject to various adjustments. The deal is reliant on competition approvals which are expected by the end of 2023. In theory the deal looks acceptable, with little crossover between Widerøe’s domestic Norwegian operation (which mainly uses Dash 8 turboprop aircraft) and Norwegian’s existing short haul network which is based around Boeing 737s.
Despite Norwegian flying 22 domestic routes, primarily to/from Oslo, Bergen, Trondheim, Bodø and Tromsø, there are only five routes where the two airlines compete. Widerøe has no competition on virtually all of its other routes, many of which are subsidised by the government.
Widerøe will, almost certainly, cut ties with EuroBonus and become part of the new combined Norwegian / Strawberry (Nordic Choice Hotels) loyalty programme which was announced last week.