Norwegian Considers Job Cuts At London-Gatwick Base

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**Update: 13/10/20 @ 09:09 UTC – Correction made regarding statement on long-haul crew base, details below.**

Budget carrier Norwegian Air is weighing the possibility of job cuts at its London Gatwick base. This is according to an airline spokesperson speaking to media sources on Friday, October 9th. If the airline follows through with this cost-reduction measure, over 250 jobs could vanish.

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Norwegian is the fourth-largest budget airline in Europe, easily distinguished by its red and white livery. Photo: Norwegian

A 45-day consultation period underway

According to Reuters, an airline spokesperson has stated that Norwegian Air is considering reducing the number of staff at its London Gatwick base. The source goes on to say that just under a quarter of the 1,142 staff at the base could be affected – 259 cabin crew and pilots, to be precise.

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The process of considering this painful move will begin with a 45-day consultation period with staff and unions, with the airline making the following statement:

“These unprecedented circumstances that we now find ourselves in require us to review the London Gatwick crew base in line with current business needs and the associated costs going forward…We have entered into consultation with our crew colleagues and unions based in the in UK and will look to find common solutions and mitigate redundancies.” -Norwegian Air via Reuters

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Norwegian has been relying on government subsidies to assist with paying employee wages. Photo: Norwegian

In the aftermath of sudden and sweeping travel restrictions, Norwegian was forced to furlough or lay off around 7,300 staff, equating to about 90% of its employees. Since the worst of the crisis, some staff have been reactivated with the limited resumption of flights over the summer.

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UK government furlough subsidy to end

On October 31st, the UK government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – commonly referred to as the furlough scheme- will come to an end. This program has been in place to subsidize two-thirds of employee wages since April.

Norwegian has been participating in this scheme since the Spring to cover staff wages. The airline made news in late April when it announced it would not have enough money to cover worker salaries for the month and thus depended on the activation of the scheme to cover payments.

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Norwegian has already received government assistance from Norway’s government as well as indirectly, through support from the UK’s furlough scheme. Photo: Norwegian

Short-haul crew base will be most affected

The plans will primarily affect the airline’s short-haul crew based at Gatwick. According to the airline, this group of employees is much smaller in size than long-haul crew based at LGW. Simple Flying had erroneously stated previously that Norwegian’s long-haul crew base would be most affected.

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Unfortunately, this means the airline’s long-haul crew base will be the larger target.

“This news is devastating for those affected and BALPA will do everything within its power to support its members, to avoid compulsory redundancies, reduce the number of employees to be dismissed and mitigate the consequences of any dismissals. -Brian Strutton, General Secretary BALPA (British Airline Pilots Association) via City AM

Strutton accuses of UK government of letting down “the industry, its employees and the traveling public in this regard.” Norwegian is currently in talks with officials in Norway for a second bailout deal, which could involve a temporary nationalization. 

Do you think that anything can be done to avoid deeper cuts at Norwegian? Will the airline introduce voluntary retirement packages as we’ve seen with other carriers? Please let us know your thoughts by leaving a comment.

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