Already beset by financial and operational troubles stemming from 737 Max groundings and Dreamliner engine problems, Norwegian, a bright light in the international low cost carrier market has announced the cancellation of 3,000 flights through mid-June in response to the global coronavirus outbreak.
Norwegian Air Shuttle (NAS), based outside of Oslo, was founded in 1993 and stacked its fleet with Boeing 737s in the early aughts. It eventually had a fleet of some 160 aircraft, mostly under five years old. In the past five years is expanded greatly in the U.S. market and connecting Europe with such cities as Austin, Texas; Boston; Chicago; Denver; Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Los Angeles; Miami; New York JFK; Newark; Oakland, California; Orlando, Florida; San Francisco; Seattle; and Tampa, Florida. Norwegian became the largest foreign airline to fly between New York and Europe, based on passenger numbers.
Now the airline, oft identified by its red tipped fuselage, has introduced temporary layoffs for a “significant share” of its workforce.
The measures are being put in place to do a reduced demand on future bookings with the airline.
“This is critical time for the aviation industry,” said Jacob Schram, CEO of Norwegian. “Unfortunately, cancellations will affect a significant share of our colleagues at Norwegian. We have initiated formal consultations with our unions regarding temporary layoffs for flying crew members as well as employees on the ground and in the offices. We will continue to engage in constructive dialogue with unions and employees to work through this difficult situation together.”
Schram added: “We encourage the authorities to immediately implement measures to imminently reduce the financial burden on the airlines in order to protect crucial infrastructure and jobs.”
Norwegian notes that affected customers will receive information about changes made as soon as they take place, and will also share updates “once the new measures are implemented.”