Norwegian Airlines announced that it will no longer offer long-haul flights between the United States and Europe. Instead, the company plans to focus on short-haul and domestic flights within other European countries.
Many know the airline for its low-cost flights, with some going for $100 or lower for a one-way trip; this made it accessible for anyone for embark in transatlantic travel. Additionally, its cheaper flights made way for other airlines to come out with competing prices, such as economy seating.
However, since the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic, several of its planes remained at a halt with nowhere to go.
Last March, the airline grounded its entire Boeing 787 Dreamliner fleet and cancelled 85 percent of its flights due to the virus and temporarily laid off 7,300 employees.
That same month, the airline also cut 40 percent of its long-haul flights after then-President Trump placed a travel ban between the U.S. and Europe.
Now, with the new COVID-19 strain found in the U.K., Europe’s travel restrictions tightened by up to 75 percent, making it unlikely for flights to take off to the United States any time soon.
CEO Jacob Schram said that the backbone of Norwegian Airlines has always been its short-haul flights, and that they will help in forming the basis of the company’s new business model.
“By focusing our operation on a short haul network, we aim to attract existing and new investors, serve our customers and support the wider infrastructure and travel industry in Norway and across the Nordics and Europe,” Schram said in a statement. “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.”
What Is The Airline’s New Plan?
Norwegian Airlines plans to cut the number of its current fleet by more than half; 140 narrow body planes will drop to 50, but the company hopes to bring that number up to 70 by 2022.
The airline wants to focus on cutting its debt to 20 billion Norwegian krona ($2.4 million) and raising up to 5 billion krona ($591 million); this will be done through a new combination of rights issued to shareholders and hybrid capital.
Following these changes, the airline also plans to cut employment, with The Independent reporting that 1,100 employees at Gatwick Airport will lose their jobs.
“It is with a heavy heart that we must accept that this will impact dedicated colleagues from across the company,” Schram said. “I would like to thank each one of our affected colleagues for their tireless dedication and contribution to Norwegian over the years.”
All customers who have current, transatlantic bookings with Norwegian Airlines will be contacted directly and refunded.