Low-cost carrier Norwegian has extended plans to cancel flights and temporarily lay off staff, in the face of “stagnating demand and enforced travel restrictions by authorities worldwide”.
But such is the escalating situation that in the four days since then, President Trump has added the UK and Ireland to the US travel ban, and several European countries have closed their borders.
Norwegian is a major carrier on transatlantic routes from London’s Gatwick airport, but the new US restrictions have effectively curtailed these operations, and the carrier now says that it will have to cancel 85 per cent of flights and temporarily lay off 90 per cent of staff.
All intercontinental flights have been cancelled, with the exception of services between Scandinavia and Thailand which will operate until the end of March.
From March 21 Norwegian will be reduced to operating a scaled down domestic schedule within Norway and between the Nordic capitals, as well as a few European flights. A list of the revised schedule can be seen below.
Commenting on the news Jacob Schram, Norwegian’s CEO said:
“What our industry is now facing is unprecedented and critical as we are approaching a scenario where most of our airplanes will be temporarily grounded. Several governments in Europe have already said that they will do everything they can to ensure that their airlines can continue to fly when society returns to normalcy.
“We appreciate that the authorities of Norway have communicated that they will implement all necessary measures to protect aviation in Norway, consequently securing crucial infrastructure and jobs.
“We understand that this extraordinary situation is stressful for our customers, but I want to assure everyone that we are working around the clock to ensure that everyone is taken care of in the best way possible at this time.
“It is indeed with a heavy heart we have to temporarily lay off more than 7,300 of our colleagues, but we unfortunately have no choice. However, I want to emphasize that this is temporary, because when the world returns to normalcy my goal is to keep as many of our dedicated colleagues as possible.”
In the last few days major airline groups including IAG and Air France KLM have announced massive cuts to their schedules over the next few months, while other such as SAS have warned they will need to temporarily lay off 90 per cent of staff, and Virgin Atlantic says it will ground up to 85 per cent of its fleet.
Aviation and travel market intelligence provider CAPA has warned that most of the world’s airlines face bankruptcy within two months, as carriers struggle to adjust schedules in the light of travel restrictions and plummeting demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Details of Norwegian's reduced schedule – starting March 25
- Oslo -Bergen/Stavanger/Trondheim: 4 daily departures
- Oslo – Ålesund/Bodø/Evenes/Tromsø: 2 daily departures
- Oslo -Alta/Kirkenes: 1 daily departure
- OSL – Haugesund/Kristiansand/Molde: 1 daily departure
- Oslo – Svalbard: 3 weekly depatures
- Oslo -Stockholm/Copenhagen: 2 daily departures
- Oslo – Helsinki: 4 weekly departures
- Stavanger – Bergen: 1 daily departure
- Bergen – Trondheim: 1 daily departure
- Stockholm – Kiruna: 4 weekly departure
- Stockholm – Luleå/Umeå: 2 weekly departures
- Stockholm – Helsinki: 2 daily departures
- Stockholm – Copenhagen: 2 daily departures
- Stockholm – Oslo: 2 daily departures
- Helsinki – Kittilä: 6 weekly departures
- Helsinki – Oulu: 1 daily departure
- Helsinki – Rovaniemi: 1 daily departure
- Helsinki – Oslo: 4 weekly departures
- Copenhagen – Oslo: 2 daily departures