Norwegian Air is to gradually cancel 85% of its flights and temporarily lay off 7,300 staff.
Thousands of flights have already been cancelled and, as of 21 March, the company will primarily fly a reduced schedule domestically in Norway and between the Nordic capitals.
Some European flights will be operated. All intercontinental routes are cancelled except flights between Scandinavia and Thailand (last flights will be at end of March).
A limited schedule will remain in place until at least 17 April but will be reviewed on a regular basis in line with changes in travel restrictions and demand.
As a result of most of the company’s aircraft being parked, Norwegian will temporarily lay off more than 7,300 staff in total which equates to approximately 90% of its workforce, which includes pilots, cabin crew, maintenance and administrative staff.
The lay-off procedures vary from country to country, and Norwegian’s team is already in constructive dialogues with union and HSE representatives at all its locations across the network, it said.
“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 emphasise that this is temporary, because when the world returns to normalcy my goal is to keep as many of our dedicated colleagues as possible,” said Jacob Schram, chief executive of Norwegian.
Norwegian said it would work closely with the authorities to arrange flights for the benefit of stranded passengers, if necessary. Customers who are directly affected by route changes and cancellations will be contacted by Norwegian via text message or email.
Schram continued: “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.”