Struggling Norwegian Air is making a comeback, with networks into Europe resuming day by day. The airline states that it flew 100% more passengers in June 2021 than it did the year before, and is responding to strong forward bookings by adding more capacity in July and August.
Norwegian is back
Much loved red-nosed airline Norwegian is making a strong comeback following its restructuring earlier this year. Now entirely focused on short-haul European services, the airline is reportedly enjoying the benefits of pent-up travel demand, with a 100% increase in passengers flying with the airline in June, compared to last year.
According to the airline’s traffic results, published today, 225,509 passengers flew with the airline last month. Capacity is up 182% year on year, although load factors are still down at 62.9%. Geir Karlsen, CEO of Norwegian, commented on the results saying,
“June traffic results still show the impact of low demand due to reduced flying schedules and government-imposed travel restrictions. However, we have seen a continued month-on-month increase in bookings as countries ease restrictions. As a result, we have resumed flights to a number of key European destinations. We will continue to adjust and increase our network and schedules as demand rises.”
The rise in forward bookings is giving confidence to the airline, and Norwegian is responding by adding more flights to its schedule. From 999 flights in June, the airline has bumped its capacity by 166%, with 2,656 flights scheduled in July. By August, that will flourish to almost 3,500 scheduled flights on the roster.
Domestic capacity remains a priority, with the top destinations including Tromso, Stavanger, Trondheim and Bergen. But Europe is starting to see Norwegian’s return, too, with the airline adding more than 20 flights in August to each of Nice, Alicante, Berlin, Malaga and Stockholm.
In total, by August, Norwegian will fly to 73 destinations across Norway and Europe. The airline says it flew 15 aircraft in June, but is set to do more flying as the summer progresses. Data from ch-aviation shows that the airline has as many as 42 737-800s at its disposal to assist in the ramp-up of its operations.
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Overshadowed by bonus row
Although most will be pleased to see Norwegian back in the air, for some out-of-pocket passengers, the airline’s history has left a bitter taste in their mouths. Customers still awaiting refunds for canceled flights last year have been left fuming, as the airline went ahead and paid out large bonuses to key members of its board.
Dagens Næringsliv reported last month that both outgoing CEO Jacob Schram and new CEO Geir Karlsen were paid around NOK 11 million ($1.3 million) each. According to reports, both executives had attempted to refuse the bonus payments, but new investors demanded that the payments were made in order to keep key personnel within the airline.
Meanwhile, Norwegian tax authorities in Oslo County Court won a case against Norwegian for back payment for taxes. The verdict ruled that the airline now owes the state around NOK 1 billion ($115 million). The state has added itself to the list of creditors claiming against the airline, but is unlikely to see more than a small percentage actually paid back.