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Low-Cost Airline Norwegian Abandons Long-Haul Business With Loss of Thousands of Jobs

Low-Cost Airline Norwegian Abandons Long-Haul Business With Loss of Thousands of Jobs

Photo Credit: Norwegian

The embattled low-cost airline Norwegian announced on Thursday that it will abandon its long-haul business as it struggles to survive amidst the continuing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. In recent years, the Oslo-based airline opened long-haul routes from London Gatwick, Paris, Rome and Barcelona to destinations across the United States, as well as Thailand and Argentina.

Thousands of jobs are now on the line after Norwegian’s chief executive Jacob Schram revealed radical plans to drop all long-haul flying and focus on its European and Nordic short-haul business. More than 1,000 cabin crew and pilots based at London Gatwick face being made redundant, along with a similar number at Norwegian’s bases across Europe and the United States.

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Photo Credit: Norwegian

“Our focus is to rebuild a strong, profitable Norwegian so that we can safeguard as many jobs as possible. We do not expect customer demand in the long haul sector to recover in the near future, and our focus will be on developing our short-haul network as we emerge from the reorganisation process,” Schram said on Thursday.

“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 continued.

Last December, Norwegian announced plans to sell some of its planes in order to shore up its finances and avoid bankruptcy. It’s now known that the airline will seek to offload its entire fleet of Boeing 787 Dreamliners.

It’s 32-strong fleet of Dreamliners have been grounded since March 2020 after the pandemic decimated the demand for long-haul air travel and they will never fly again for Norwegian.

Schram also announced plans to sell around 36 single-aisle Boeing 737 jets with plans to operate just 50 narrow-body aircraft in 2021. By 2022, Norwegian hopes to increase that number to 70 planes.

Norwegian looked to be on the brink of collapse in November when the government in Oslo refused to bail out the debt-laden airline for a second time. Norwegian slashed its workforce by 94 per cent in a bid to stay afloat and sought help from investors yet again.

The airline has pursued bankruptcy protection in Ireland and Norway while it works on its new business plan. Many employees have been supported through government schemes designed to protect jobs through the pandemic but the agencies that employed these workers will now be closed down.

View Comment (1)
  • What most people won’t be aware of… Norwegian’s exit from the longhaul market may surprisingly pose a particular headache for British Airways.

    It removes another competitor to the existing BA / American Airlines transatlantic joint venture. This is not good news as it will mean greater scrutiny in 2024 when the Competition and Markets Authority revisits the existing agreement.

    Luckily for BA, JetBlue has plans to enter the transatlantic market later this year.

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