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Norwegian on the ropes; survival uncertain


Norwegian Air Shuttle and its various long-distance subsidiaries may be near the end of the line after Norwegian authorities turned down a plea for several hundred million Euros in bailouts; earlier it got €277 billion, but that has not been enough, despite the airline slashing jobs and services.

Best-known outside Scandinavia for its low-cost long-distance services—it is widely credited for having re-invented cheap trans-Atlantic travel—it is also a major short-haul carrier within Scandinavia. It built on its local success to create a wide-ranging route network, but the rapid expansion left it gasping for cash as long as two years ago, when it turned down a take-over bid of more than €1.3 billion by British Airways parent IAG.

Although it has been making announcements about service returning to trans-Atlantic routes soon, it is presently flying few routes, and has closed many of its base operations.

The airline is publicly calling 'unfair' and called the Oslo action "a slap in the face" because many of its rivals have gotten better government bailouts, but those have mostly gone to important flag carriers rather than leisure-based independent carriers.

Norway's Commerce and Industry Minister says "Norwegian asked for help in the billions (of kroner) and the government believes, that in the current situation, this is not the best use of taxpayer money. Such aid could also be deemed anti-competitive."

Ironic photo: A Norwegian 737 with a tail image of Sir Freddie Laker, who invented cheap trans-Atlantic travel the first time around before bankruptcy.

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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Earlier today (Nov. 18) Norwegian filed for 'examinership' in Irish courts for two of its subsidiaries that are based in Ireland, Norwegian Air International and Arctic Aviation Assets. NAI has been the carrier for most of Norwegian's trans-Atlantic business.

Examinership is similar to U.S. Chapter 11 bankruptcy; it gives the company protection from creditors while it works out a court-approved plan to resume normal business, possibly shedding parts of both its debt and its fleet along the way. The process can take up to 100 days.

During the process, Norwegian can continue its operations, already quite limited due to the pandemic, and its stock will continue to be traded on the Oslo exchange.

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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