OSLO: Budget airline Norwegian has axed its long-haul network, leading to the loss of 1,100 pilot and cabin crew jobs based at Gatwick Airport.
The carrier said it will operate a “simplified business structure and dedicated short-haul route network” after being badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
Norwegian shook up the UK’s long-haul aviation market in recent years by offering transatlantic flights at knockdown prices. Some of its most popular deals included £99 trips to New York. But it struggled to contain costs during its rapid expansion, and has come under further strain due to the virus crisis.
Its entire Boeing 787 Dreamliner fleet has been grounded since March 2020.
In August 2020, the airline announced that it would need more financial support to get through the pandemic, after reporting a loss of £442 million for the first six months of the year.
Under its new plan, it will only fly within Norway, across the Nordic region and to “key European destinations”. Chief executive Jacob Schram said: “Our short-haul network has always been the backbone of Norwegian and will form the basis of a future resilient business model.”
Around 2,160 jobs will be lost around the world – including at Gatwick – as the firm also has long-haul bases in France, Italy, Spain and the US. Brian Strutton, general secretary of pilots’ union Balpa, said: “This news will be personally devastating for all Gatwick-based crew. The airline has struggled in the face of the ongoing Covid crisis, despite the combined efforts of all the company’s recognised trade unions, who have worked tirelessly to remain flexible and accommodating.
The airline has failed for several reasons but there can be no blame apportioned to the pilot, crew or other staff groups.”
Customers with affected bookings will be contacted by the airline and refunded.
It said on Thursday that it has resumed talks with the Norwegian government about further state support.