Struggling low-cost airline Norwegian is said to be making plans to slash up to 448 cabin crew and pilot jobs in Spain – representing a third of the carrier’s total workforce in the country. Norwegian said the move followed an “exhaustive” review of its short-haul operations in the country.
The latest round of redundancies will follow the closure of Norwegian’s short-haul base in Madrid. Around 100 cabin crew and 70 pilots who currently work for the airline in the Spanish capital will be affected – it’s not known whether Norwegian plans on offering those whose jobs have been axed the opportunity to move to alternative bases somewhere else in Europe.
Norwegian had been making plans to close its two bases on the Spanish islands of Gran Canaria and Tenerife but now says both will be saved following a review of the “constantly changing competitive environment”. The two bases will, however, face a significant reduction in the number of cabin crew and pilots.
Along with job losses in Barcelona, Malaga and Alicante, the USO union estimates that as many as 448 will face the risk of being made redundant.
The first group of cabin crew and pilots at the doomed Madrid base will be let go next month. The base will then be fully shut by January. The closure will not affect long-haul operations from Madrid to New York JFK and Los Angeles.
Norwegian says it has “carried out an exhaustive review of its short-haul operations in Spain and has concluded that some of its routes in Madrid are not commercially viable.”
“As part of the strategy of moving from growth to profitability, Norwegian has adopted a strict focus on the management of its network, with a constant evaluation of the performance of each route, so that each of them can meet customer demand,” a statement from the airline read.
The USO union accused Norwegian of lying to its members throughout the summer with the promise that the Madrid base would not face being closed down. The union is considering its next move which could include strike action.
“In the next few days, Norwegian will have to prove why certain routes operated from Madrid have ceased to be profitable or if, instead, for strategic reasons of the group globally, they have decided to withdraw resources from Spain, despite being profitable, to reinforce other foreign bases, which would not justify this closure at all,” commented Ernesto Iglesias, general secretary of USO.