Norwegian Air to end long-haul flights, focus on Europe

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COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) – Low-cost carrier Norwegian Air Shuttle said on Thursday it would focus on European destinations and shut down long-haul operations as it battles the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic and restructuring debt.

The airline said it “will focus on its core business in the Nordic countries, operating a European short-haul network with narrow-body aircraft. Under these circumstances, a long-haul operation is not viable for Norwegian and therefore these operations will not continue. “

The plan affects its flights to the United States and means it will reduce its fleet from 140 aircraft to around 50.

Norwegian also wants to reduce its total debt to around DKr 20 billion ($ 2.36 billion) and plans to raise KKr 4 to 5 billion ($ 473 to $ 590 million) in new capital, including through a rights issue and a private placement of shares. The plan must be approved by an Irish bankruptcy court.

Like other airlines, its fleet is now largely immobilized because the pandemic has caused an almost total cessation of travel around the world.

In November, Norwegian said it was seeking restructuring and bankruptcy protection in Ireland, where its fleet is held, saying it was in the best interests of its stakeholders.

Earlier that month, the Oslo-based company said it faced a “very uncertain” future after the Norwegian government rejected its request for further financial support. The government said the airline had already struggled financially even before the pandemic and that aid should first be targeted at healthy businesses.

After that, Norwegian announced it had to lay off another 1,600 staff and on the ground 15 of the 21 planes it flew with.

In May, the carrier secured 3 billion crowns ($ 354 million) in government loan guarantees as part of its restructuring plan. But the second call for help was rejected on November 9.

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