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Low-Cost Airline, Norwegian to Restart European Flights 9 Months Earlier Than Originally Forecast

Low-Cost Airline, Norwegian to Restart European Flights 9 Months Earlier Than Originally Forecast

The low-cost, Oslo-based airline Norwegian is to restart a limited number of short-haul European flights some nine months earlier than originally expected. The budget carrier grounded almost its entire aircraft fleet in response to the Corona crisis in April and has operated just a handful of domestic flights across Norway since. The airline had one of the bleakest outlooks of recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, forecasting a near-complete grounding until April 2021 at the earliest.

But the embattled airline, which recently secured a USD $315 million taxpayer-funded bailout from the Norwegian government, says it will now reinstate 76 short-haul routes starting from July 1 after witnessing a rise in demand for air travel.

Norwegian is Asking for More Time to Pay Off Outstanding Loans
Photo Credit: Norwegian

“Feedback from our customers has shown that they are keen to get back in the air and resume their travels with Norwegian beyond the current domestic services that we have been operating,” explained chief executive Jacob Schram on Wednesday morning.

Norwegian initially plans to reinstate 12 additional aircraft into service, taking the airline’s active fleet size to just 20 Boeing 737’s. For now, Norwegian has not shared any plans to resume long-haul flights using its fleet of Boeing 787’s – currently in a state of ‘hibernation’ until early next year according to a business plan shared by Norwegian.

More than 300 pilots and 400 cabin crew based in Norway will return from being temporarily laid-off and operations will restart at the airline’s Scandanavian hubs, as well as at London Gatwick Airport.

“Further destinations and frequency increases will be announced in due course subject to passenger demand and government travel restrictions,” the airline said in a statement. “Today’s news demonstrates that we are starting to see small green shoots of recovery,” commented Stewart Wingate, the chief executive of Gatwick airport on hearing the news.

Like most airlines, Norwegian will require passengers to wear face masks onboard its aircraft and will attempt to enforce some form of social distancing during boarding and disembarking – although, these measures won’t extend to blocking the middle seat when passenger loads are high.

For the time being at least, Norwegian will not offer any form of onboard catering in order to reduce interaction between passengers and crew.

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