Low-cost carrier Norwegian has reported first half losses of NOK 5.3 billion (£452 million), and warned that further government intervention would be required to see it through the Covid-19 crisis.

The airline carried just 5.3 million passengers over the six months from January to June 2020, a decrease of 71 per cent on the same period last year.

The coronavirus pandemic forced Norwegian to ground 140 aircraft and either furlough or lay off 8,000 staff, with just a handful of aircraft operating domestic routes during the second quarter.

In March the carrier announced it had gained access to state guaranteed loans of NOK 3 billion (£256 million), but CEO Jacob Schram warned that more would be needed.

“The Covid-19 crisis has impacted aviation and the travel industry particularly hard, and most companies need government support to survive,” said Schram. “We see that many of our main competitors receive considerable liquidity support from their governments as aviation represents the backbone of infrastructure.”

“We are thankful for the loan guarantee made available to us by the Norwegian government which we worked hard to obtain. However, given the current market conditions it is not enough to get through this prolonged crisis.”

The carrier reopened 76 routes on July 1, bringing an additional 15 aircraft into services and 600 employees back to work, but it said that changing travel advice from governments across Europe meant that “The market is still highly uncertain”.

“As the government changes its travel advice, demand is immediately impacted,” the carrier said. “Going forward the company will continue to adjust its route portfolio in line with demand and government travel advice.”