|Founded||22 January 1993|
|Frequent-flyer program||Norwegian Reward|
|Fleet size||22 (excluding subsidiaries),|
45 (including subsidiaries)
|Traded as||OSE: NAS|
|Key people||Geir Karlsen (CEO)|
|Revenue||NOK 40.265 billion (2018)|
|Operating income||NOK −3.851 billion (2018)|
|Net income||NOK −1.454 billion (2018)|
Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA (OSE: NAS), trading as Norwegian, is a Norwegian low-cost airline and Norway's largest airline. It is the fourth largest low-cost carrier in Europe behind Wizz Air, easyJet and Ryanair, the second-largest airline in Scandinavia, and the ninth-largest airline in Europe in terms of passenger numbers. It offers a high-frequency domestic flight schedule within Scandinavia and Finland, and to business destinations such as London, as well as to holiday destinations in the Mediterranean and the Canary Islands, transporting over 30 million people in 2016. The airline is known for its distinctive livery of white with a red nose, with portraits of high achievers on the tail fins of its aircraft.
Norwegian's flights are operated by itself as well as fully owned subsidiaries, including Norwegian Air Sweden and Norwegian Air Norway. Each airline holds a unique air operator's certificate (AOC) but shares branding, corporate identity, and commercial functions with the rest of the Group.
Until December 2019, Norwegian also owned and operated Norwegian Air Argentina, which operated domestic flights within the country. Until January 2021, Norwegian's former long-haul subsidiaries Norwegian Air UK and Norwegian Long Haul operated long-haul flights on behalf of the company, after which both subsidiaries were put into liquidation when long-haul operations were ended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Until April 2021, Norwegian utilised Ireland-based Norwegian Air International for European-based operations outside of Norway or Sweden.
Norwegian Air Shuttle (NAS) was founded on 22 January 1993 to take over the regional airline services produced by Busy Bee for Braathens in Western Norway. Busy Bee, founded in 1966, was a subsidiary of Braathens that operated a fleet of Fokker 50 aircraft on charter services. This included the network of regional services between cities on the west coast of Norway operated on wet lease for the mother company. Following Busy Bee's bankruptcy in December 1992, NAS took over three leased Fokker 50 aircraft, and started operating from Bergen Airport, Flesland to Haugesund Airport, Karmøy, as well as from Bergen to Molde Airport, Årø or Kristiansund Airport, Kvernberget, and onwards to Trondheim Airport, Værnes. The company was established and owned by former Busy Bee employees and initially had a workforce of fifty. It was based in Bergen, but later established a technical base in Stavanger.
From 1 April 1994, the airline also began service from Bergen to Ålesund Airport, Vigra. In 1995, the company received its fourth Fokker 50s, and had a revenue of NOK 86.6 million and a profit of NOK 2.9 million. It flew 50 daily services.
By 1999, the company had six Fokker 50s and flew 500,000 passengers on 20,000 flights. The company had a revenue of NOK 172 million and a profit of NOK 13 million. On 2 June 2000, NAS bought the helicopter operator Lufttransport from Helikopter Service. In 2000, the NAS fleet was expanded to seven Fokker 50s. From 2 January 2001, several Braathens routes were terminated, including the NAS-operated services from Kristiansund to Trondheim and Molde. The route from Bergen to Haugesund, and Bergen-Molde-Trondheim were reduced.
On 7 January 2002, NAS took over the route from Stavanger to Newcastle, flying two round trips per day; this was the first route on which the airline did not wet lease the aircraft to Braathens, but operated the route in its own right. After Braathens was bought by Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS) in November 2001, all contracts that Norwegian had with Braathens for the routes on the Norwegian west coast were cancelled by SAS, as it wanted its subsidiary SAS Commuter to take the routes over. NAS had an 18-month cancellation period in its contract with Braathens; however, this was not respected by SAS - the contracts were terminated without notice. Following the purchase of Braathens by SAS, and the subsequent termination of its contracts, NAS announced in April 2002 that it would start domestic scheduled services as a low-cost carrier on the busiest routes. From 1 September 2002, the airline re-branded as Norwegian.
The airline opened its second hub at Warsaw Frederic Chopin Airport in Poland, flying to Central European destinations. There were two Boeing 737 operating from Warsaw. (The base was closed in 2010.) Norwegian announced on 24 April 2007 that it had bought 100% of the Swedish low-cost airline FlyNordic from Finnair plc, becoming the largest low-cost airline in Scandinavia. As payment for the shares in FlyNordic, Finnair received a 5% share stake in Norwegian.
On 30 August 2007, Norwegian ordered 42 new Boeing 737-800 aircraft, with options for 42 more, an order worth US$3.1 billion. This order was later increased by six aircraft in November 2009. In July 2010 15 of the options were converted to orders, and in June 2011 15 more options were converted, bringing the total order of new, owned 737-800s to 78 aircraft with 12 remaining options. Additionally, Norwegian introduced leased Boeing 737-800 aircraft into the fleet. The first leased 737-800 arrived at Oslo Airport, Gardermoen, Norway, on 26 January 2008.
In April 2010, Norwegian started flights from Oslo-Gardermoen and Stockholm to Helsinki-Vantaa Airport. During early 2011, Norwegian had three aircraft stationed in Helsinki, and introduced domestic flights to Oulu Airport and Rovaniemi Airport on 31 March 2011. In May, flights to nine additional international destinations began.
In October 2009, Norwegian had announced that it intended to start flights from Oslo to New York City and Bangkok, for which new intercontinental aircraft were required. In 2010, it said it was considering up to 15 intercontinental destinations from Scandinavia, and would also consider services to South America and Africa. On 8 November 2010, Norwegian announced that it had contracted to lease two new Boeing 787 Dreamliners with delivery in 2012; and that it was negotiating the leasing of additional aircraft.
On 25 January 2012, Norwegian announced the largest orders of aircraft in European history. The orders consisted of 22 Boeing 737-800 and 100 Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft with options for another 100 of the latter; and for 100 Airbus A320neos with options for another 50. In late October 2012, the airline announced a new base at London Gatwick from spring 2013 with three Boeing 737-800s to be used on new international routes from London to leisure destinations in Spain, Portugal, France, Italy and Croatia. All announced routes were to be flown in competition with airlines such as British Airways, easyJet and Thomson Airways.
In 2016 Norwegian won its first charter contract in the United States, flying three Boeing 737-800s out of Chicago/Rockford International Airport and General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee to Mexico and the Caribbean from December 2016 to April 2017 for Apple Vacations and Funjet Vacations.
By February 2017, Norwegian had expanded to the point that it became Scandinavia's largest airline. On 20 April 2017, Norwegian announced its second long-haul destination in Asia, with flights between London's Gatwick Airport and Singapore Changi Airport, using Boeing 787s operated by Norwegian Air UK. (These flights ended on 11 January 2019.) On 29 June 2017, Norwegian took delivery of its first Boeing 737 MAX, which featured Freddie Laker on its tailfin and was registered to Norwegian Air International. The parent company, Norwegian Air Shuttle, would later accept its first Boeing 737 MAX on 13 August 2018, the aircraft featuring Oscar Wilde on its tailfin.
To finance its aggressive growth involving the inauguration of many new routes, the hiring and training of new employees, and the accepting of aircraft deliveries, Norwegian sold some of its shares in Bank Norwegian in June and December 2017, and participated in the sale and leaseback of its owned aircraft.
Norwegian changed its strategy from growth to profitability in 2018, and in January 2019, the airline announced restructuring measures consisting of the closure of several crew bases mostly for its Boeing 737 operations outside Norway, as well as a possible revision of its aircraft order books, including the cancellation of nearly its entire Airbus A320neo family order. On 12 March 2019, the group grounded all of its Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, on the advice of the EASA, after the Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air crashes. On 11 July 2019, the company's founder and CEO Bjørn Kjos stepped down as CEO. Kjos explained his decision by citing his age and the company's growing need for fresh leadership. Chief Financial Officer Geir Karlsen stepped in as interim CEO. In the past year of restructuring, Norwegian encountered severe economic impact, with its stock price down more than 85% from the previous year, blamed largely in part due to the Boeing 737 MAX groundings. In an effort to delay its bond repayment of $380 million by two years, Norwegian offered its slots at Gatwick for collateral. Jacob Schram, a former gas executive, was named Kjos' replacement as CEO on 20 November 2019 and joined the company in January 2020.
During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Norwegian continued to be impacted in its finances and operations, and its value on the open market dropped nearly 80% in the weeks leading up to Black Thursday. On 16 March 2020, the airline announced it was cancelling 85% of its flights and laying off 7,300 workers. On 20 April 2020, the airline reported the bankruptcy of various staffing subsidiaries and the termination of agreements with OSM Aviation, each of which were responsible for staffing the airline's flights from its crew bases outside of Norway, France, and Italy, affecting 4,700 workers.
On 27 April 2020, Norwegian outlined its plans to qualify for a governmental loan from the Norwegian state, including the conversion of its debt and leasing commitments to equity, its intention to reduce its active fleet to seven Boeing 737-800 aircraft operating solely on domestic routes within Norway, and to postpone operations outside of Norway (including to the rest of Europe and intercontinental long-haul flights) until March 2021. The airline presented these plans as emerging as a "New Norwegian", further planning to reinstate additional aircraft and operations as demand would allow, and to ultimately operate between 110 and 120 aircraft, down from the 160+ aircraft it operated before the crisis. Shares in the airline continued to decrease in value in anticipation of the airline converting its debt to equity, which occurred on 20 May 2020, resulting in companies leasing aircraft to the airline (including AerCap and BOC Aviation) becoming the airline's largest shareholders.
On 17 June 2020, Norwegian began adding additional flights for the month of July from Norway to Denmark and Sweden, as well as from Scandinavia to other European countries including Italy, Portugal, Spain, and the UK among others as demand recovered and countries reopened. On 29 June 2020, the airline announced it had cancelled all of its remaining orders from Boeing, consisting of 92 Boeing 737 MAXs, five Boeing 787s, and service agreements related to both aircraft types.
After receiving aid from the Norwegian government, Norwegian had also sought a credit guarantee for a loan through the Swedish government, which the government described as being eligible for airlines with a Swedish operating permit and its main operations or headquarters in Sweden through the start of 2020. The Swedish government had allocated a total of 5 billion SEK in credit guarantees for potential candidate airlines, intending the candidates to be financially viable and essential to the Swedish aviation infrastructure, and noted that it had allocated 1.5 billion SEK to Scandinavian Airlines, which is headquartered in Sweden. While Norwegian through itself and its subsidiary Norwegian Air Sweden collectively had a Swedish air operator's certificate (and through it, aircraft registered on the Swedish registry), as well as operations based in Sweden, the airline's application for a credit guarantee was denied by the Swedish government in August 2020; the government claiming that the airline had not been financially viable as of 31 December 2019, before the pandemic. Also in August 2020, Norwegian warned that the company would run out of cash by the first quarter of 2021 if it had not received further funding. In November 2020, the Norwegian government stated it would not extend further government aid to the airline, amidst fears the airline would use the funding to grow its operations that were based outside of Norway. On 18 November 2020, Norwegian sought for bankruptcy protection in Ireland, where most of its remaining fleet is held, in an attempt to restructure the organization which was expected to last five months. During part of this period, Norwegian once again reduced its network to mostly domestic operations within Norway with an active fleet of eight Boeing 737-800s.
Continuing into 2021, Norwegian maintained its restructuring efforts in order to formulate a sustainable business plan that would allow the airline to both receive further governmental aid and investment from private enterprise. In January 2021, Norwegian and its subsidiaries began to reduce their fleets by handing several aircraft, including long-haul Boeing 787s, back to their respective lessors. On 14 January 2021, Norwegian announced it was ending all long-haul services to focus on a resized European route network. On 24 February 2021, Norwegian announced that it had cancelled orders for 53 Airbus A320neos and 30 Airbus A321LRs. On 4 March 2021, CFO Geir Karlsen confirmed that the airline's Boeing 737 MAX operations would not resume and that the airline had sought to sell its 737 MAX fleet. On 11 March 2021, the Irish high court approved Norwegian's termination of a further 25 aircraft leases, and on 26 March 2021 approved its restructuring plan as part of its bankruptcy protection procedures. This was followed by the high court in Norway approving the restructuring plan on 10 April 2021.
As part of its effort to further simplify and streamline its operations, Norwegian retired its Irish AOC held by Norwegian Air International, and began the process of reregistering NAI's remaining Irish-registered fleet to Norway and the transferral of its EU-based flight and base operations to Norwegian Air Sweden in mid-April 2021. Norwegian's plans also included the operation of a total of 50 Boeing 737-800s during 2021 in order to operate a single fleet type, to later increase to 68 aircraft in 2022, consisting of 40 based in Norway and the remaining 28 to be based across the rest of Europe. Though despite stating that its Boeing 737 MAX operations would not resume and that its Airbus A320neo family orders were cancelled, its plans also acknowledged potential to include the 737 MAX and A320neo in the future.
In April 2021, Norwegian announced plans to lay off 85 percent of its staff based in Spain due to the closure of all Spanish bases formerly operated by defunct Norwegian Air International, except Alicante and Málaga which would be kept by Norwegian Air Sweden. In May 2021, Norwegian exited bankruptcy protection and its Irish examinership with the completion of its restructuring process, following no objections from either of the high courts based in Ireland and Norway. Following Norwegian's emergence from bankruptcy protection, its board of directors fired its CEO Jacob Schram, promoting its CFO Geir Karlsen to CEO.
Shares of the parent company, Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA, are listed on Oslo Børs (Oslo Stock Exchange) with the ticker symbol NAS and are included in the benchmark index OBX, composed of the 25 most liquid shares on the Børs. Before the May 2020 recapitalization, the largest shareholder was HBK Holding AS (4.64% of shares as of 3 April 2020), whose majority owner is Bjørn Kjos, founder of the company. After the emission of new shares to its previous creditors, its largest owners were AerCap (15.9% of the capital) and BOC Aviation (12.7%).
The Norwegian Group consists of the parent company and its directly or indirectly owned subsidiaries in Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. The parent company also owns 100% of the telephone company Call Norwegian AS, and 99.9% of NAS Asset Management, which owns the 737-800 aircraft purchased from Boeing.
The key trends for the Norwegian Group over recent years are shown below (as at year ending 31 December):
|Profit (EBT) (MNOK)||5||623||243||167||623||437||−1,627||75||1,508||−2,562||−2,490||−1,688|
|Net profit (MNOK)||4||446||189||122||475||319||1,072||246||1,135||−1,794||−1,454||−1,609|
|Number of employees (FTE at y/end)||1,596||1,852||2,211||2,555||2,890||3,738||4,314||4,576||5,796||7,845||10,215|
|Number of passengers (m)||9.1||10.8||13.0||15.7||17.7||20.7||24.0||25.8||29.3||33.2||37.3||36.2|
|Passenger load factor (%)||78.7||78.2||77.4||79.3||78.5||78.3||80.9||86.2||87.7||87.5||85.8||86.6|
|Unit cost (CASK)||0.56||0.49||0.46||0.46||0.45||0.42||0.42||0.42||0.41||0.43||0.43|
|Number of aircraft (at year end)||40||46||57||62||68||85||95||99||118||144||165||156|
The company is headed by CEO Geir Karlsen, Marty St. George as COO, and the board of directors is chaired by Niels Smedegaard. Bjørn Kjos, the company's founder and previously its largest shareholder, stepped down as CEO on 11 July 2019, but continued to act as an adviser. Kjos was subsequently replaced by Karlsen as acting CEO for six months, before the company appointed Jacob Schram as its CEO, who served from January 2020 until June 2021.
Norwegian Air Shuttle and its integrated subsidiaries, which together form Norwegian Group, each hold their own air operator's certificate (AOC). Over the airline group's history, it has collectively held multiple AOCs in various countries for the operation of its flights, beginning with the acquisition of Swedish airline FlyNordic in 2008, and later setting up subsidiary airlines in Ireland, the United Kingdom, Sweden, and Argentina in order to access traffic rights and freedoms in countries beyond Norway. By 2021, the airline group had since reduced its AOCs to certificates registered in Norway and Sweden, held by Norwegian Air Shuttle and Norwegian Air Sweden respectively.
The company's head office is in Diamanten, an office building at Fornebu, Bærum outside Oslo. Previously, the airline had its head office functions inside other buildings in Fornebu, but in 2010 moved to Diamanten, which had been the former Braathens, and later SAS Norway, head office.
Since 2007, Norwegian has been a signature partner with UNICEF Norway and has operated four aid flights to various war-torn countries in the world. These are flights for which the company, its employees and passengers contribute money to fill an aircraft with aid and deliver the aid to the country in need. Passengers can contribute when they purchase tickets, food and drinks, or through the entertainment system on board. Initially, the airline used one of its Boeing 737-300 or Boeing 737-800 aircraft in a special UNICEF livery, but in 2017 for the first time the airline used a Boeing 787-9, in its mission to Yemen. In 2018, the airline cooperated with MegaDo and Insideflyer, auctioning off seats for these special flights with all proceeds donated to UNICEF.
Norwegian and UNICEF have conducted five humanitarian aid missions since 2014 to the Central African Republic, to Syrian refugees in Jordan, to Mali, Yemen and Chad. The partners claim that together they have delivered emergency aid that has saved more than 100,000 children's lives.
Norwegian Air Shuttle serves destinations throughout Europe and North Africa for both business and leisure markets. Combined with its integrated subsidiaries that operate additional short-haul flights, the airline flies to 104 destinations as of January 2021.
Domestic, intra-Nordic and typical European business and leisure destinations have the most flights. The busiest routes in Norwegian's network are the Oslo to Bergen and the Oslo to Trondheim routes with 15 daily round-trips. Norwegian's largest non-Scandinavian operation is to London Gatwick with up to 24 daily round-trips. Intra-Scandinavian routes, and in particular on "the capital triangle" between Oslo, Stockholm and Copenhagen, are attractive due to extensive traffic for both business and leisure travellers. Other modes of transportation between these cities are generally slow.
Following Norwegian's announcement in 2009 that it would enter the long-haul market, Norwegian subsequently launched long-haul flights on 30 May 2013, which initially consisted of flights from Oslo and Stockholm to Bangkok and New York City. The flights, which were operated by a new subsidiary Norwegian Long Haul, originally launched with wet-leased Airbus A340-300 aircraft while the deliveries of the airline's Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft were delayed. Over the next several years, Norwegian's long-haul operations with its Boeing 787s expanded to other European countries in addition to Scandinavia, with its route network eventually consisting of flights to Asia and the Americas from Europe. A new subsidiary, Norwegian Air UK, was also established to operate long-haul flights at Norwegian's London Gatwick base.
Norwegian also launched long-haul flights using Boeing 737s between Europe and North America in 2017, initially with Boeing 737-800 aircraft before it received its first of several Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. These flights were operated by Norwegian's Irish subsidiary airline, Norwegian Air International. Long-haul operations with the Boeing 737s were ended in September 2019 following the Boeing 737 MAX groundings since March of that year, while long-haul flights with the Boeing 787s were discontinued in January 2021, following their initial suspension as an impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
|Boeing 737-800||23||—||186||Operated by Norwegian Air Sweden|
|Boeing 737 MAX 8||18||2017||2021|||
|McDonnell Douglas MD-82||5||2007||2009|||
|McDonnell Douglas MD-83||3||2008||2009|
From 1993 to 2002, the company solely operated Fokker 50 turbo-prop aircraft primarily as a commuter airline, having a total fleet of six by 2002. The company ceased all Fokker 50 operations at the end of 2003 to focus on Boeing 737-300 jet operations. For a limited period in the early years of the 737 operations, Norwegian operated a Boeing 737-500 as an interim solution while waiting for 737-300 deliveries. Following the acquisition of Swedish low-cost airline FlyNordic in 2007, Norwegian inherited eight McDonnell Douglas MD-80 series aircraft. The last of the MD-80 aircraft was phased out two years later.
Norwegian's aircraft livery is white with a signal red nose and a dark blue stripe, the same colours as the flag of Norway. The vertical stabilizer or tailfin is painted with a red tip and a dark blue stripe underneath containing the airline's website, with the rest of the talfin either blank white, or featuring depictions of historically significant individuals from across Europe and the Americas. Special liveries featured on Norwegian's aircraft include or previously included promotional liveries for the insurance company Silver, Norwegian's partnership with UNICEF, Network Norway, and the airline's frequent-flyer program Norwegian Reward.
Norwegian's Boeing 737s are configured in an all-economy class layout consisting of 186 or 189 seats in a 3-3 configuration. The airline offers in-flight entertainment by overhead screens, video on demand streamable to personal devices, and WiFi Internet access. When the airline previously operated widebody Boeing 787 aircraft through its integrated subsidiaries, it offered premium economy class seating and services. As a low-cost airline, Norwegian charges additional fees for on-board food and drinks, checked baggage, payment by credit card and other non-core services.
The airline runs a frequent flyer program called Norwegian Reward. Passengers can earn points based on the price of the ticket and the ticket class. Norwegian supported the ban on point accrual that was in force on domestic flights in Norway until 16 May 2013, but when that ban was lifted, the reward programs were extended to that market as well.
It was reported in 2014 that Norwegian Air customers had lodged a record number of complaints, with a tribunal judge stating to Dagens Næringsliv, "We have never before seen this scope of complaints in a single case". Norwegian's policies were also criticized by passengers who were left without food, drinks and blankets on board for up to 12 hours (available for pay but only with credit card). In August 2014, 35,000 people were reportedly hit with delays when flying with Norwegian, and 1,200 passengers ultimately sued Norwegian for compensation. However, for the most part, the tribunal did not agree with the complaints and only in a few cases did Norwegian have to compensate the passenger(s).
Between 2011 and 2013, Norwegian Air Shuttle (NAS) was criticized regarding its treatment of employees.
The media first reported NAS's announced intention to open a base in Helsinki, from where it hired pilots on short-term contracts in Estonia rather than as employees within the company. The Norwegian tax-office authorities reportedly suspected in August 2012 that many Norwegian citizens were working for NAS on these contracts and not paying Norwegian taxes, despite operating on flights originating from Norway. The Norwegian Pilot's Union (NPU) took NAS to court over the short-term contracts. Then-CEO Bjørn Kjos appeared to inflame matters when he declared that NAS would no longer hire employees on Norwegian terms.
In 2012, NAS started to use contract-employed pilots on routes within Scandinavia, considered by the NPU to be an abrogation of labor terms regarding non-Scandinavian pilots on routes within Scandinavia. The NPU soon after sued NAS.
In October 2013, the NPU announced its intention to strike because NAS had forced its pilots to face dismissal or transfer to Norwegian Air Norway or Norwegian Air Resources AB, both subsidiaries of NAS; the respective subsidiary would then hire the pilots back to NAS. The NPU and its Swedish counterpart SPF accused NAS of using this ploy to break the solidarity and organisation of the pilots, with the eventual goal of coercing pilots to convert their jobs to contract positions.
In mid-December 2013, NAS demanded that its Swedish non-contract flight attendants transfer to Proffice Aviation, an external staffing company, or face dismissal. According to the Swedish cabin-crew union, Unionen, it managed to save the jobs of 53 NAS employees, but it was dissatisfied with the direction NAS had taken. The situation led to the leader for the Swedish Left Party, Jonas Sjöstedt, to state that stricter regulation was needed for the use of staffing-companies in Sweden.
Norwegian Long Haul was criticized for the terms of its contracts with its long-haul flight attendants on contracts based in Thailand. The Air Line Pilots Association further accused Norwegian of unfair competition practices. The airline contested these accusations, and disclosed the pay scale for its Thai employees, who earn between $33,300 and US$39,200 per annum, which is under the $42.2K USD average pay for US flight attendants (though these comparisons are made between solely intercontinental Norwegian Long Haul flights versus domestic and intercontinental flights of US-paid flight attendants).
Consolidated AOC-structure with one EU and one Norwegian AOC with full flexibility on crew and clear accountability
Media related to Norwegian Air Shuttle at Wikimedia Commons