Norwegian Air Shuttle
Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA (OSE: NAS), trading as Norwegian, is a Norwegian low-cost airline and Norway's largest airline. It is the third largest low-cost carrier in Europe behind easyJet and Ryanair and the ninth-largest low-cost airline in the world, the largest airline in Scandinavia, and the eighth-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 distinguished Scandinavians on the tail fins of its aircraft.
Norwegian launched its long-haul operation in May 2013. The long-haul flights are operated by fully owned subsidiaries: Norway-based Norwegian Long Haul, Ireland-based Norwegian Air International, and United Kingdom-based Norwegian Air UK. Additional short-haul flights are operated by Norwegian Air International and Argentina-based Norwegian Air Argentina. Each airline holds a unique air operator's certificate (AOC) but shares branding and commercial functions with the rest of the Group.
Regional airline – 1993–2002Edit
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 responsibility for 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 instead 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 any notice.
Operations as a budget carrier – from 2002 onwardsEdit
Following the decision by SAS to purchase Braathens, and the subsequent termination of all contracts between Braathens and NAS, 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 Air Shuttle ASA announced 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 there, introducing 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 announced it intended to start flights from Oslo to New York City and Bangkok, requiring new intercontinental aircraft. 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 are flown in competition with airlines such as easyJet, Ryanair and Thomson Airways. Gatwick is also served by Norwegian from a large number of cities in Scandinavia.
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.
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. Norwegian's flights between Gatwick and Singapore ended on 11 January 2019.
On 29 June 2017, Norwegian received 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 receive its first Boeing 737 MAX on 13 August 2018, the aircraft itself featuring Oscar Wilde on its tailfin.
To finance its aggressive growth involving the inauguration of many new routes across itself and its subsidiaries, 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.
In January 2019, the airline announced restructuring measures consisting of the closure of several crew bases mostly for its Boeing 737 operations outside of Scandinavia as well as a possible revision of its aircraft order books including the cancellation of its entire Airbus A320neo order.
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.
The Norwegian Group consists of the parent company Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA, and the fully owned subsidiaries Norwegian Air Shuttle Polska Sp.zo.o and Norwegian Air Shuttle Sweden AB. All flights are operated by the parent company Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA; the subsidiaries manage personnel, sales and marketing within certain geographical areas.
Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA owns 100% of the telephone company Call Norwegian AS, 99.9% of NAS Asset Management which owns the new 737-800 aircraft purchased from Boeing, 100% of NAS Asset Management Norway AS, and 100% of Norwegian Long Haul AS, as well as 20% of Norwegian Finans Holding ASA (Bank Norwegian AS).
The key trends for Norwegian over recent years are shown below (as at year ending 31 December):
|Profit (EBT) (MNOK)||39||−32||113||5||623||243||167||623||437||−1,627||75||1,508||−2,562|
|Number of employees (FTE at y/end)||560||882||1,417||1,596||1,852||2,211||2,555||2,890||3,738||4,314||4,576||5,796||-|
|Number of passengers (m)||3.3||5.1||6.9||9.1||10.8||13.0||15.7||17.7||20.7||24.0||25.8||29.3||33.2|
|Passenger load factor (%)||78.0||78.6||80.1||78.7||78.2||77.4||79.3||78.5||78.3||80.9||86.2||87.7||87.5|
|Revenue/RPK (Yield) (NOK)||0.68||0.67||0.67||-||-||-||-||0.55||0.50||0.43||-||0.42||0.39|
|Unit Cost (CASK) ||-||-||0.53||0.56||0.49||0.46||0.46||0.45||0.42||0.42||0.42||0.41||0.43|
|Number of aircraft (at year end)||13||22||32||40||46||57||62||68||85||95||99||118||144|
Norwegian Air customers have 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". With more than 200 complaints having been registered with the Transport Complaints Board alone, passengers have created the Twitter hashtag, #NeverFlyNorwegian.
Norwegian's policies have also been 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.
Between 2011 and 2013, Norwegian Air Shuttle (NAS) has received harsh criticism 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 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) brought NAS to court over the short-term contracts. NAS CEO Bjørn Kjos only inflamed matters when he declared that NAS would no longer hire employees on Norwegian terms.
In the fall of 2012, NAS started to use contract-employed pilots on routes within Scandinavia, which was 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 as NAS 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 organization of the pilots, with the eventual goal of coercing pilots to converting 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 HaulEdit
Norwegian has also been criticised for the terms of its contracts with its long-haul flight-attendants on contracts based in Thailand. This has caused the Air Line Pilots Association to further accuse Norwegian of unfair competition practices.
The airline contests these accusations and has disclosed the pay scale for its Thai employees, who earn between USD 33,300 and USD 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).
Norwegian serves Europe, North Africa and the Middle East for both business and leisure markets. In total the airline operates 500 routes to 150 destinations in 35 countries on four continents.
Domestic, intra-Nordic and typical European business and leisure destinations have the most service. 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 "the capital triangle" between Oslo, Stockholm and Copenhagen, is attractive due to extensive traffic for both business and leisure travellers. Other modes of transportation are generally slow between these cities.
Typical leisure destinations in Southern Europe are typically served once or twice a day from the main Nordic cities.
Norwegian started long-haul flights on 30 May 2013. The first scheduled Norwegian Long Haul flights were from Oslo and Stockholm to New York City and Bangkok, originally with wet-leased Airbus A340-300 aircraft while the airline awaited delivery of its new Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft. In March 2013 Norwegian Air Shuttle confirmed new long haul routes from Copenhagen, Oslo and Stockholm to Fort Lauderdale in Florida, beginning on 29 November 2013.
|Airbus A321LR||—||30||220||Deliveries begin 2019.|
|Boeing 737 MAX 8||8||92||189||Order to be distributed among parent and subsidiary airlines. |
Deliveries (to subsidiaries) began June 2017.
As of January 2019[update], Norwegian and its subsidiaries operate 163 aircraft, which includes 67 aircraft by Norwegian Air International, 20 by Norwegian Long Haul, 13 by Norwegian Air UK, 4 by Norwegian Air Argentina, and 3 by Norwegian Air Sweden.
From 1993 to 2002, the company solely operated Fokker F-50 turbo-prop aircraft primarily as a commuter airline, having a total fleet of six in 2002. The company ceased all F-50 operations at the end of 2003 in order to focus on the Boeing 737-300 jet operations and sold the last three of the Fokker F-50 in early 2004. For a limited period in the early years of the 737 operation Norwegian operated a 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 MD-80 aircraft. The last of the MD-80 aircraft was phased out two years later.
|McDonnell Douglas MD-82||2008||2009|||
|McDonnell Douglas MD-83||2008||2009|||
Norwegian's aircraft livery is white with a signal red nose. Slightly further down the aircraft is a dark blue line. The vertical stabilizer of the aircraft in Norwegian's fleet is either white with red and dark blue lines at the top with white Norwegians titles in the blue or features depictions of historically significant Norwegians, Finns, Danes, and Swedes. Norwegian has also operated a single aircraft in a special promotional livery for the insurance company Silver. Modern variants of the Aircraft fleet are colloquially known by ground crew and pilots as the 'amorøs elkhound'.
Operations and servicesEdit
All flight operations are performed under one single air operator's certificate (AOC) (ICAO airline designator NAX). The Group also held a Swedish AOC (ICAO airline designator NDC) up until 2009, but the double AOC operation was discontinued for efficiency purposes. The main technical base is at Stavanger, although heavy maintenance (C/D checks) and engine maintenance are put out on tender.
Norwegian, as a low-cost airline, operates aircraft with all-economy class seating (except on the Boeing 787 which offers 2 cabins, Premium and Economy). Surcharges are taken for on-board food and drinks, check-in 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 (20% on Flex tickets, 2% on LowFare tickets). Norwegian supported the ban on point accrual that was in force on Norwegian domestic flights until 16 May 2013, but when that ban was lifted, the reward programs were extended to that market as well.
Norwegian also offers free WiFi on services in Europe and on flights between the U.S. and the Caribbean operated by the Boeing 737-800. WiFi service is planned to be increasingly available on flights operated by the Boeing 737 MAX 8, and international long-haul flights operated by the Boeing 787-9 starting from January 2019. The service plans to offer passengers a free option allowing for web browsing, messaging, and email, and an option with increased bandwidth allowing for video streaming for an additional fee.
Diversion to Shiraz, Iran December 2018Edit
A Norwegian Boeing 737 MAX suffered an unspecified technical failure over Iran in December 2018. The pilot made a precautionary landing at Shiraz Shahid Dastgheib International Airport without incident. Spare parts required to make the aircraft airworthy were not available in the world outside the United States, which has prohibited exports of technology to Iran. Two months later, the almost-brand-new aircraft remains stranded in Shiraz and subject to seizure by the Iranian government.
Since 2007, Norwegian has been a signature partner with UNICEF Norway and has four aid flights to various war-torn countries in the world. These are flights where the company, its employees and passengers contribute with money to fill up an aircraft with aid and deliver it to the country in need. Passengers can contribute when they purchase tickets, food and drinks, or through the entertainment system on board. Previously, the airline has used one of its Boeing 737-300 or Boeing 737-800 aircraft in a special UNICEF livery, however in 2017 for its mission to Yemen, the airline used for the first time a Boeing 787-9 for such a mission. Recently the airline has also cooperated with MegaDo and Insideflyer, auctioning off seats for these special flights with all proceeds donated to UNICEF.
Norwegian and UNICEF have conducted four humanitarian aid missions since 2014 to the Central African Republic, to Syrian refugees in Jordan, to Mali, and Yemen. Together, the partners have brought emergency aid that has saved more than 100,000 children's lives.
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