In a statement released today, Norwegian Air confirmed that it is looking to resume flights outside Norway from July 1st. The airline will operate these first non-Norwegian flights since lockdown by flying from Copenhagen to Aalborg in Denmark. Currently, the airline is operating just seven of its 160 aircraft on its domestic network.
Norwegian summer schedule
Norwegian is the latest airline to begin to resume operations following the COVID-19 outbreak. The airline confirmed it would expand its route to include destinations outside of Norway from July. Norwegian will operate three daily round trips on this route as it was one of the airline’s more substantial routes pre-lockdown.
Norwegian is set to expand further by providing its summer schedule tomorrow. The schedule will include more international routes between Norway, Denmark, and Sweden. Last month, as internal restructuring measures took place, the airline said it might not resume international flights until next year. Although it is not looking to resume flight earlier than initially stated, it has not announced any flights to the rest of central Europe.
Rival airlines such as SAS and Ryanair are ahead of Norwegian in ramping up their international summer schedules. But Norwegian is struggling. The airline has been int rouble financially for a while now, and the NOK 3bn ($304 million) loan it secured from the government meant the carrier didn’t collapse in May.
The airline completed a restructuring process in May, which was needed to ensure it met the requirements for the government loan. Despite restructuring and gaining access to loan money, the airline has still asked creditors to work with the airline to ensure loans can be paid back. The airline had posted net losses for the past three years but was working towards a profit for 2020 until the virus hit.
A fleet of problems
Part of the issue for Norwegian isn’t going to be solved immediately. Problems with its fleet have plagued the airline for years. The airline operated 29 Boeing 787 Dreamliners on long-haul routes. Issues with the Trent engines on the Dreamliners meant grounded planes. Combined with a lack of demand, cancellations, and refunds, and the airline was beginning to struggle. Then the Boeing 737 MAX grounded caused more financial turmoil for the airline.
Now, as Norwegian looks to resume operations, it is faced with social distancing measures reducing capacity. So far, around 90% of the airline’s staff have been permanently or temporarily furloughed to help cut costs. But just as it cuts costs and resumes flights, it will not face legal action from the states.
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According to the European Union, Norway, and the US, airlines must reimburse passengers for canceled flights within seven days. A group of American passengers who had a flight canceled has now taken out a class-action lawsuit against Norwegian Air Shuttle.
Passengers who had their flight canceled due to the virus outbreak were due compensation by June 22nd. As this has yet to be paid, they have decided to take legal action. So far, Norwegian has yet to comment on the lawsuit but has said it has every intention of paying back passengers for canceled flights.
What do you think? Are the passengers right to demand their money back? Should they be more understanding of the current situation and give the airline more time? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.