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‘We’re back on schedule’: Norwegian after pilot shortage cancellations

Low-cost Scandinavian airline Norwegian says it expects to operate normal services from Tuesday after cancelling flights due to understaffing.

'We’re back on schedule': Norwegian after pilot shortage cancellations
File photo: Gorm Kallestad/NTB scanpix

An acute shortage of pilots was the cause behind the airline’s forced cancellations, reports newspaper Dagens Næringsliv.

Thousands of passengers in Norway and other countries have been left stranded or forced to cancel travel plans due to the cancellations.

Several flights have been cancelled over the last few days, including services to and from Denmark, where a flight between Aalborg and Copenhagen was cancelled Tuesday morning.

But Norwegian moved to reassure passengers on Tuesday.

“We currently have no cancellations, and it looks as though we will now operate in accordance with the schedule,” the company’s information officer Daniel Kirchhoff told Danish broadcaster DR.

Danish passengers were stranded in Budapest Monday, when three Aalborg-Copenhagen flights were also cancelled.

Norwegian scheduled replacement bus services in place of the domestic flights.

Flights from Copenhagen to Oslo, Stockholm and Paris were also cancelled.

READ ALSO: For first time, Norwegian flies more passengers than rival SAS

The disruption to the budget airline’s services was blamed on an acute shortage of pilots, even though the airline offered its pilots quadruple pay to work during their holidays, reports Dagens Næringsliv.

The offer was rejected by the Norwegian Pilot Union (NPU).

“Maybe some pilots would say yes to working even though they were tired. And this job requires us to be alert all of the time,” NPU chief Halvor Vatbar told Dagens Næringsliv.

Kirchhoff confirmed that the pilot shortage was behind the cancellations.

“We have been short of pilots, and that is deeply regrettable. We always try to plan as well as possible and look into all options for bringing in extra pilots,” he said to DR.

“We understand that it is extremely frustrating for passengers,” he said.

The company’s director of flights Tomas Hesthammer told Norwegian newspaper VG that the lack of pilots available in the Scandinavian country represented a “fundamental problem”.

READ ALSO: Norwegian hires new pilots to address 'terrible' situation

“We are working full time to find short-term solutions, such as hiring manned aircraft from other operators to serve the routes we cannot cover ourselves. But it is very difficult during the peak season,” he said.

Kirchhoff told DR that passengers should contact Norwegian via its website for information on compensation.

AIRLINE

Airline Norwegian posts 15 billion kroner loss after nightmare 2020

Low cost airline Norwegian has registered a loss of 14.9 billion Norwegian kroner for 2020, a year in which the company saw a drastic reduction in passenger numbers and was on the brink of bankruptcy.

A file photo of a Norwegian Air Shuttle plane in Finland.
A file photo of a Norwegian Air Shuttle plane in Finland. Heikki Saukkomaa / Lehtikuva / AFP

Low cost airline Norwegian has registered a loss of 14.9 billion Norwegian kroner for 2020, a year in which the company saw a drastic reduction in passenger numbers and was on the brink of bankruptcy.

The company published its annual results on Friday, revealing the huge operating loss.

Norwegian’s 2019 result, a loss of around 1.7 billion kroner, had put the company in a difficult position even prior to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The coronavirus outbreak and its consequent travel restrictions reduced the company’s passenger numbers to 6.9 million in 2020. That is 29 million fewer than in 2019.

Not all of the loss is due to fewer passengers. Around half of the company’s devaluation is attributed to a depreciation of the value of its aircraft fleet, news wire Ritzau reports.

“2020 was an exceptionally demanding year for air travel and for Norwegian,” CEO Jacob Schram said in a statement on the annual results.

“In light of that, the result for the fourth quarter (of 2020) is not surprising. Unfortunately, the majority of our employees are furloughed and many have lost their jobs – in part because of the closure of long distance services,” he added.

The company was already in debt prior to the pandemic and is now under bankruptcy protection in Ireland and is undergoing similar process in Norway.

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