In late 2020, Norwegian officially went bankrupt after several years of struggles. Now, just a few months later, the airline is preparing to get back in the skies properly. In addition, the airline is reportedly already looking at growing its fleet again to a total of 70 aircraft by 2022.
The new Norwegian
Earlier this month, the low-cost carrier received approval from its creditors to begin restructuring. The first step towards restructuring is raising capital which it has yet to do. But this hasn’t prevented the airline from making big plans for its future.
According to Routesonline, the team behind the airline is already looking at a strategy for the coming years. The new Norwegian will focus on the core Nordic market and will operate flights domestically within Norway and to key cities in Denmark, Sweden, and Finland. However, Norwegian anticipates that demand in these areas won’t return to 2019 levels until 2023 or 2024.
That being said, the airline plans to operate a fleet of around 50 aircraft this year as it slowly brings back its network. The plan is to grow this to a fleet of 70 by the end of 2022. The airline’s current fleet consists entirely of Boeing 737-800s, of which only nine have flown in recent months on predominantly domestic routes.
What can we expect from the airline?
Although signs are looking good and the airline is clearly planning for the next few years, it’s a long way off being a successful turnaround. The airline is still operating very few flights, and although passenger numbers are slowly increasing, the airline is not yet making a profit. Norwegian is restructuring on the back of a $2.6 billion loss for 2020 and still needs to raise capital.
However, the new airline will leave the long-haul routes to others and will concentrate on the short-haul market, which was the backbone of its operations before bankruptcy. While the Nordic market will undoubtedly be the airline’s core, it will resume operations to other European destinations in the coming weeks.
Flights to Barcelona, Belgrade, Berlin, and Malaga will surely boost the airline’s position as a low-cost leisure carrier. Similarly, connections from popular destinations like Oslo to London Gatwick could bolster the airline’s recovery.
The growing fleet
With a seemingly set plan in place, attention will surely turn to the airline’s growing fleet. The airline plans to jump from 50 aircraft to 70 in just over one year. Recently the airline canceled orders for 88 Airbus aircraft, including 30 new A321LR. The airline also recently confirmed it would not be bringing back the Boeing 737 MAX.
Currently, the airline operates an all Boeing 737-800 fleet, so it may opt for more of the same. With a focus on short-haul routes, the airline doesn’t need long-range aircraft. The airline recently ended leases for 36 aircraft, but if it plans to increase its fleet again, it may need to lease more aircraft later this year.
What do you think of the airline’s plans? Is Norwegian getting ahead of itself? What do you think will be the next step for its fleet will be? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.