Norwegian Looks To Trim Spanish Workforce By 85%

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Although low-cost carrier Norwegian Air is looking to leave bankruptcy protection soon and officially relaunch within the coming months, it is still finding ways to save money and downsize. Yesterday, the airline informed unions that as many as 1,200 cabin crew based in Spain could lose their jobs. The airline is closing three of its five Spanish bases.

Norwegian will cut around 1,200 jobs from its bases in Spain. This equates to around 85% of its Spanish workforce. Photo: Norwegian Air

Norwegian entered bankruptcy protection at the end of last year after several years of financial struggles. And so far, the restructuring process has been fairly fast. It’s only been a few months, and the airline is already planning to resume operations and is even looking at growing its fleet.

However, as with all restructuring processes, some cuts are inevitable. Firstly, the airline confirmed it would be shrinking its fleet and stopping all long-haul operations across the Atlantic. Now, the airline has confirmed to Spanish unions that more staff jobs are at risk as the airline continues to downsize and cut costs. Norwegian furloughed over 1,600 staff members in November last year.

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From five bases to three

Norwegian previously had five main hubs in Spain: Barcelona, Gran Canaria, Tenerife South, Alicante, and Malaga. Due to downsizing measures and changes to its network, the airline will only retain two bases; Alicante and Malaga. The result is a massive cut to the number of staff needed to maintain operations.

Norwegian 737-800
Norwegian is closing three of its five bases in Spain, resulting in massive job losses. Photo: Norwegian

It’s thought that around 1,200 cabin crew will lose their jobs, equivalent to around 85% of Norwegian’s Spanish workforce. The reduced operations will likely see just one aircraft based at each of the airline’s remaining Spanish hubs for the rest of this year. The Union Sindical Obrera (USO) has said it would work with the Spanish Union of Airline Pilots (SEPLA) to continue talks with the airline to ensure the minimum number of jobs are lost.

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The next steps for Norwegian

Unsurprisingly, the airline is having to make staffing cuts at most locations. With a smaller fleet and fewer operations, the airline simply doesn’t need the crew or the pilots. Norwegian is said to be focusing on the Nordic market, which means that there shouldn’t be as many staff cuts in these regions. However, the airline did furlough staff due to the drop in demand caused by the pandemic. As flights resume, Norwegian is well-placed to recover.

Norwegian 737-800
Norwegian will focus on the Nordic Markets. The airline believes it will be so successful in these markets; it will grow its fleet next year. Photo: Getty Images

By concentrating on short-haul flights in the Nordic region, with a few links to the rest of Europe, Norwegian can capitalize on the growing leisure demand for summer 2021. However, job cuts are likely in the UK, France, and Italy. It’s thought that the airline will end up cutting over 2,000 jobs in total, plus those who have been placed on furlough.

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However, the job losses won’t be permanent. The airline will only have two aircraft based in Spain this year. But by the end of 2022, Norwegian hopes to increase this to six aircraft based in Spain. The estimated number of staff to operate these aircraft will be around 215, including cabin crew and pilots.

Some unconfirmed reports say the airline is also hoping to discuss reduced working hours or lower pay to avoid job losses. This will also mean the staff remain available when the airline begins to grow again.

Are you surprised by the number of job losses in Spain? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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