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  • Norwegian Air on Thursday announced plans to cut its cheap transatlantic flights between the US and Europe.
  • The plans would cut Norwegian’s fleet from 140 aircraft to just 50, it said.
  • More than 1,000 people will lose their jobs in the UK, along with a similar number in the US.
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One of Europe’s biggest airlines, Norwegian Air, plans to abandon long-haul flights between the US and Europe and focus on building a scaled-down European network, as it struggles to stay afloat amid the coronavirus crisis.

The Oslo-based airline will concentrate on offering cheap flights for domestic routes in Norway, across Nordic countries, and to key European destinations, it said in a statement Thursday.

Norwegian, known for its red-nosed airplanes and cheap fares, connected cities across the US with cities in Europe, offering nonstop flights for as little as $100. This has ultimately made transatlantic travel more accessible.

The airline had already slashed the number of long-haul flights by 40% in March.

The airline said Thursday it has restarted talks with the Norwegian government about financial aid for the restructuring plan.

The proposal would cut Norwegian’s fleet from 140 aircraft to about 50, it said. 

Gallery: The world’s safest airlines for 2021, per AirlineRatings.com (USA TODAY)

“Future demand remains highly uncertain. Under these circumstances a long haul operation is not viable for Norwegian and these operations will not continue,” the airline said.

It aims to cut its debt to around 20 billion Norwegian crowns ($2.4 billion) and to raise up to 5 billion crowns ($591 million) through a mix of new shares and hybrid capital.

Around 1,100 crew will be made redundant in the UK, along with similar numbers in France, Italy, Spain, and the US, the Independent reported Thursday.

Travel restrictions, quarantine, and changing government advice around the world has discouraged people from flying to other countries, and has left the aviation industry struggling to survive.

The entire fleet of Norwegian’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner fleet had been grounded since March 2020, the low-cost airline said. 

Passengers whose future bookings have now been cancelled “will be contacted directly and will be refunded,” Norwegian said.

Read more: Moody’s says COVID-19 relief for airport stores and restaurants may help the air travel sector survive, but the outlook remains bleak

“Our short haul network has always been the backbone of Norwegian and will form the basis of a future resilient business model,” Jacob Schram, CEO of Norwegian, said.

“It is with a heavy heart that we must accept that this will impact dedicated colleagues from across the company. I would like to thank each one of our affected colleagues for their tireless dedication and contribution to Norwegian over the years,” he added.

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