Norwegian’s reconstruction process in Ireland, called the Examinership, was approved by the judge in the Irish High Court on March 26. Based on this decision, Norwegian will now send the same proposal for voting in Norway. Following this, the company will start the process of raising capital with the goal of a final resolution by the end of May.
The Examiner process in Ireland is a reconstruction involving several of the company’s Irish subsidiaries. The goal of the process, which started on November 18, 2020, is primarily to strengthen the company financially and to rightsize the fleet in order to adapt to future demands.
The verdict from the Irish High Court was reached following meetings with the company’s creditors, whereby a large majority voted in favor of the reconstruction process. A similar voting process will now take place with the creditors in the Norwegian reconstruction during the next 14 days, prior to the final ruling from the Norwegian Court. The Norwegian reconstruction is therefore continuing as planned, and is expected to be completed by mid May.
“This is a demanding and ongoing process, however, the result of the court rulings enforces our beliefs of a positive final outcome. We are looking forward to and are preparing fora post-pandemic world, without travel restrictions and open borders.”Said Schram.
The decision from the Irish High Court will be legally binding following an appeal period of one month and the company will technically still be in the Examinership until the process of capital raise is finalized. Given that the court proceedings continue as planned, Norwegian’s goal is to finalize the capital raise by the end of May 2021.
Norwegian Air International is an Irish semi-ultra budget airline and a fully integrated subsidiary of Norwegian Air Shuttle, using its corporate identity. It operates flights to destinations in Europe and the Middle East from several bases in Denmark, Finland, Spain, and the United Kingdom, and is headquartered at Dublin Airport.
Norwegian Air International aircraft photo gallery:
Norwegian has made a major decision to shut down its long-haul Boeing 787 Dreamliner network and concentrate on short-haul operations from Europe with this announcement:
Norwegian’s Board of Directors has outlined a simplified business structure and dedicated short haul route network. With this plan, Norwegian can build a robust and solid company that will attract investors and continue to serve new and existing customers.
Norwegian has long been recognized as an industry leader in low cost travel, winning numerous awards. The company will build on this foundation, focusing on its core Nordics business, operating a European short haul network with narrow body aircraft. The airline will continue to meet its customers’ needs by offering competitive fares across a broad range of domestic routes in Norway, across the Nordics and to key European destinations.
“Our short haul network has always been the backbone of Norwegian and will form the basis of a future resilient business model,” said Jacob Schram, CEO of Norwegian.
The current plan is to serve these markets with around 50 narrow body aircraft in operation in 2021 and to increase that number to around 70 narrow body aircraft in 2022. Furthermore, Norwegian targets to reduce its debt significantly to around NOK 20 billion and to raise NOK 4 – 5 billion in new capital through a combination of a rights issue to current shareholders, a private placement and a hybrid instrument. The company has received concrete interest in participation in the private placement. Norwegian has recently reinitiated a dialogue with the Norwegian government about possible state participation based on the new business plan.
The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly affected the entire aviation industry. Travel restrictions and changing government advice continue to negatively influence demand for long haul travel, and Norwegian’s entire Boeing 787 Dreamliner fleet has been grounded since March 2020. Future demand remains highly uncertain. Under these circumstances a long haul operation is not viable for Norwegian and these operations will not continue. The consequence of this decision is that the board of directors of the legal entities employing primarily long haul staff in Italy, France, the UK and the US have contacted insolvency practitioners. Norwegian will continue to assess profitable opportunities as the world adapts and recovers from the impact of COVID-19.
Customers with bookings affected by the future changes in our route network will be contacted directly and will be refunded. The examinership and reconstruction processes undertaken in Ireland and Norway will continue as planned, and the plan presented today is subject to approval by the Examiner and Reconstructor, support from the creditors and subsequently court approval.
Following the government of Norway’s decision to withhold further support from the airline, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA has decided to initiate an examinership process in Ireland relating to its subsidiary Norwegian Air International Limited (NAI), its wholly-owned asset company Arctic Aviation Assets DAC (AAA) and some of AAA’s subsidiaries; Norwegian will also enter in and get protection of the Irish Examinership process as a related party.
Norwegian has chosen an Irish process since its aircraft assets are held in Ireland. Norwegian has taken this decision in the interest of its stakeholders.
The purpose of the process is to reduce debt, rightsize the fleet and secure new capital. This reorganisation process protects the assets of the Norwegian group while allowing the company to focus on the rightsizing of the group. The process is estimated to take up to five months.
Norwegian will continue to operate its route network (currently limited due to the Covid situation) and trade as normal on the Oslo Stock Exchange (Oslo Børs). Norwegian Reward will continue as normal honouring and earning CashPoints for its members. Safeguarding as many jobs as possible, while rightsizing its asset base, will continue to be a top priority for the management team throughout this process.
Jacob Schram, Norwegian CEO, said: “Seeking protection to reorganise under Irish law is a decision that we have taken to secure the future of Norwegian for the benefit of our employees, customers and investors. Our aim is to find solutions with our stakeholders that will allow us to emerge as a financially stronger and secure airline.”
The process of examinership in Ireland allows financially sustainable businesses to address elements of the business which require restructuring with the aim of protecting jobs and preserving the core value of the business. This protection, through a court appointed examiner, ultimately allows a company to secure new capital and implement a legally binding scheme for the settlement of debts.
“Our intent is clear. We will emerge from this process as a more financially secure and competitive airline, with a new financial structure, a rightsized fleet and improved customer offering,” said Schram.
Based on Norwegian’s current cash position and the projections going forward, the company believes it has sufficient liquidity to go through the above-mentioned process.
Norwegian has launched a new environmental sustainability strategy that will begin immediately and deliver several industry leading targets. Cutting CO2 emissions by 45 percent, remove all non-recyclable plastics and recycle all single-use plastics are key commitments in the new strategy. The goal is in line with the 1.5°C target set forth in the Paris Agreement.
Jacob Schram, CEO of Norwegian, said: “At Norwegian we take our responsibility towards the environment seriously, and that is why we must look to the future and implement a strategy that produces immediate and tangible benefits for the environment today. Norwegian will continue to instigate a positive change across the industry in this field that will benefit not only the environment but also our customers and our business. The low-cost business model is the sustainability model as it enables efficient energy and resource management.”
Will require 500 million litres sustainable aviation fuels
To limit global warming to 1.5°C, carbon emissions must be reduced by 45 percent by 2030 compared to 2010 levels, according to the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2018). We commit to improve the carbon efficiency of our operations and will reduce our carbon emissions by 45 percent per passenger kilometer (RPK) by 2030 – compared to 2010 levels. This will be achieved through both fleet renewal and sustainable aviation fuels.
The airline commits to utilising between 16 and 28 percent sustainable aviation fuels by the end of the decade, depending on the level of fleet renewal. The target amounts to up to 500 million litres sustainable aviation fuels by 2030.
To achieve this important goal, it is also crucial to get in place a regulatory framework that actively rewards carbon efficiency and increases both the production and use of sustainable aviation fuel.
Jacob Schram said: “We encourage producers to ramp up production of sustainable aviation fuels. Norwegian will be actively engaging with producers to kick start this vital contribution to the industry and take advantage of the emission savings that these fuels offer.”
Will remove all non-recyclable plastics
Initial elements of the sustainability strategy will also include a 100 percent reduction of non-recyclable plastics and 100 percent recycling of single-use plastics by 2023.
Anders Fagernæs, Norwegian Head of Environmental Sustainability, said: “More sustainable and smarter options are becoming a greater part of the considerations that customers make when choosing which airline to fly with. We will champion this attitude and become the customers sustainable choice by reducing and recycling plastic waste, promoting sustainable aviation fuel and continuing to fly one of the world’s youngest fleets to achieve a 45 percent reduction in CO2 emissions by 2030.”
A solid foundation
Norwegian is already one of the world’s leading fuel-efficient carriers due to its modern fuel-efficient aircraft. Norwegian was the first airline to sign the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) pledge, committing to become carbon neutral by 2050.
The airline was also voted the world’s most fuel-efficient airline on transatlantic routes in 2015 and 2018 by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) and since 2010 the airline has reduced its emissions by 28 percent.
Norwegian’s traffic figures for August are heavily influenced by the COVID-19 outbreak and the subsequent travel restrictions and drop in demand. In August, capacity was 94% lower than last year, while the flights that were operated had a load factor of 62.1%.
From July 1 Norwegian reopened 76 routes and put an additional 15 aircraft into service, throughout the summer frequencies and routes were adjusted in accordance with variations in passenger demand linked to changing government travel restrictions and advice.
Compared to the same period last year total capacity (ASK) decreased by 94 percent while total passenger traffic (RPK) decreased by 96 percent. Load factor was 62.1 percent, down 27.9 percentage points. The total number of customers carried in August was 313,316 a decrease of 91 percent.
Norwegian on August 28, 2020 reported its results for the first half year of 2020. The figures are as expected heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic with a net loss of NOK 5.3 billion. During the first half of 2020, 5.31 million customers travelled with the company; a decrease of 71 percent compared to the same period last year. Norwegian successfully converted debt, gained access to state guaranteed loans of NOK 3 billion and conducted a public offering, in addition to implementing a series of cost-reduction measures. Still, Norwegian is facing challenging times ahead.
Before COVID-19, Norwegian had guided the market of a profitable 2020 and the best summer ever. Strict government travel advice and the following drop in customer demand forced Norwegian to ground 140 aircraft and furlough or lay off approximately 8,000 employees. In the second quarter, Norwegian only operated 7-8 aircraft on domestic routes in Norway. Following a successful restructuring process, the company gained access to the Norwegian government’s loan guarantee of NOK 3 billion and an additional NOK 0.3 billion from commercial banks.
“When we entered 2020, we were expecting a positive result and the best summer ever, thanks to successful cost-saving initiatives and a more efficient operation. Then we were hit by COVID-19 and customer demand literally stopped from one day to the next, as government-imposed travel restrictions and travel advice were introduced world-wide. For the past months we have been working tirelessly to make sure that we can emerge from this crisis as a stronger company, well-positioned for future competition. Some of these measures have been painful, but totally necessary if we are to make it through at all. Creditors, bondholders and shareholders have shown us support and trust to find a way forward for the company and our customers are expressing their strong support, for which I am grateful. And not least, I am extremely proud of all our Red Nose Warriors who are keeping up a positive spirit,” said CEO Jacob Schram.
During the first six months of 2020, 5.3 million customers travelled with Norwegian, compared to 18.1 million during the same period previous year. Production (ASK) was down by 69 percent and passenger traffic (RPK) decreased by 72 percent. The load factor was 78.2 percent, a decrease of 6.5 percentage points compared to the first half of 2019. Both load factor and production are adjusted according to the government mandatory blocking of middle seats on domestic routes in Norway in the second quarter of 2020.
Punctuality was at 87.2 percent, an improvement of 7.3 percentage points compared to the first half of 2019.
Poor visibility creates uncertainty ahead
On July 1, Norwegian reopened 76 routes, put an additional 15 aircraft into service and brought more than 600 employees back to work. The market is still highly uncertain, mainly due to changing travel advice from governments across Europe. As the government changes its travel advice, demand is immediately impacted. Going forward the company will continue to adjust its route portfolio in line with demand and government travel advice.
“The COVID-19 crisis has impacted aviation and the travel industry particularly hard, and most companies need government support to survive. We see that many of our main competitors receive considerable liquidity support from their governments as aviation represents the backbone of infrastructure. We are thankful for the loan guarantee made available to us by the Norwegian government which we worked hard to obtain. However, given the current market conditions it is not enough to get through this prolonged crisis,” Schram said.
Norwegian confirms that the restructuring is completed and that the state loan guarantee of in total NOK 3 billion has been approved. The company has now converted NOK 12.7 billion of debt to equity and laid a solid foundation for the future, although the next months will remain challenging.
“I want to thank everyone who has supported the company during this unprecedented crisis that has affected the entire the airline industry: The Government and Parliament; customers; employees: shareholders; leasing companies; creditors; bondholders, the travel industry and other Norwegian supporters. Now that we can access the state loan guarantee, we can continue to transform the company. Through this process, the belief in New Norwegian and the company’s strategy have been confirmed by shareholders, the market, bondholders, leasing companies, other creditors and lenders. Nevertheless, the months ahead will remain challenging and with a high degree of uncertainty for the industry. Norwegian will still need to collaborate closely with a number of creditors as the company currently has limited revenues,” said CEO Jacob Schram.
Since the end of 2018, Norwegian has taken significant actions to restructure its operations and return to profitability. The company was on the path to deliver a positive net profit in 2020, and this summer was set to be the strongest in the company’s history. Instead, the coronavirus outbreak and global travel restrictions has led to a substantial drop in demand.
The Company has seized this time as an opportunity to restructure and develop a new strategy and business plan – New Norwegian – for a strengthened airline to re-emerge when travel restrictions are lifted and demand returns.
“In addition to securing that the company survives this crisis, our goal has been that Norwegian should have a strong position in the future airline industry, with a clear direction and strategy. This will ensure sustainable operations and a structure that will be to the benefit of both shareholders, customers and colleagues,” says Schram.
Following the U.S. ban on travel from most of Europe and the escalating coronavirus situation, Norwegian has decided to ground 40 percent of its long-haul fleet and cancel up to 25 percent of its short-haul flights until the end of May. The changes apply to the company’s entire route network.
Jacob Schram, CEO of Norwegian said: “This is an unprecedented situation and our main priority continues to be the care and safety of our customers and colleagues. The new restrictions imposed further pressure on an already difficult situation. We urge international governments to act now to ensure that the aviation industry can protect jobs and continue to be a vital part of the global economic recovery.”
40 percent of long-haul capacity to be cancelled
From March 13th to March 29th, we will cancel the majority of our long-haul flights to the U.S. from Amsterdam, Madrid, Oslo, Stockholm, Barcelona and Paris.
From March 13th to the end of May, all flights between Rome and the U.S. will be cancelled.
From March 29th until the end of April, all flights from Paris, Barcelona, Madrid, Amsterdam, Athens and Oslo to the U.S. will be cancelled.
All routes between London Gatwick and the U.S. will continue to operate as normal. Our goal is to reroute as many of our customers as possible through London during this difficult period.
The short-haul network heavily impacted
Norwegian will also cancel a large share of its domestic flights in Norway and flights within Scandinavia, such as Oslo-Copenhagen and Oslo-Stockholm. Flights to Italy will also be cancelled. Domestic and intra-Scandinavian flights will be combined to re-protect our customers.
Customers booked to travel on affected flights will be contacted to discuss their options including rebooking onto a flight at a later date. Due to a high number of enquires we encourage all customers to check our website www.norwegian.com/updates for the latest travel advice. If your travels are past April 15th, 2020, please refrain from contacting our Customer Care team at this time.
During a pandemic it is Norwegian’s policy to prioritize and safeguard the health and well-being of employees while ensuring Norwegian’s ability to maintain essential operations and continue providing services to our customers.
Due to the extraordinary market situation as a result of the coronavirus, and thus a dramatic drop in customers and subsequent production decline, we must look at all possible measures to reduce costs. This unfortunately also includes temporary layoffs of up to 50 percent of our employees and the number may increase. All departments will be affected by the temporary layoffs.
We have initiated, in consultation with the unions, a discussion and mapping process and will then return with leave notices to affected departments, stations and employees.
Norwegian has during the past few days experienced reduced demand on some routes, particularly on future bookings. Bookings for flights departing in the coming weeks are less affected. The company has decided to cancel 22 long-haul flights between Europe and the U.S. from March 28 to May 5. Norwegian has a limited number of flights to Northern Italy and other regions heavily affected by the virus. In addition, the company has a higher share of leisure traffic, which seem less affected than business traffic. The company has also already reduced its capacity by up to 15 percent in 2020. Norwegian is monitoring the developments closely and is continuously evaluating additional changes to its schedule.
The following routes are affected: Rome – Los Angeles; Rome – Boston; Rome – New York (reduced number of departures during selected weeks on all these routes) and London – New York (three daily departures are reduced to two on some days).
Affected customers will be contacted by Norwegian and offered a new itinerary.
Given the uncertainty and ongoing impact on overall demand for air travel, Norwegian withdraws its 2020 guidance provided to the market on February 13, 2020. At this stage, it is too early to assess the full impact on our business.
Norwegian will discontinue its transAtlantic routes originally operated by the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft this September. The decision follows months of substitute aircraft and wetlease operations covering the airline’s routes due to the global grounding of the 737 MAX aircraft. There are no changes to the 46 nonstop routes operated by the Dreamliner from the United States to Europe.
“Since March, we have tirelessly sought to minimize the impact on our customers by hiring, so called wetleasing, replacement aircraft to operate services between North America and Ireland. However, as the return to service date for the 737 MAX remains uncertain, this solution is unsustainable,” said Matthew Robert Wood, Senior Vice President Commercial Long-Haul and New Markets, Norwegian.
In March, Norwegian managed to implement a back-up plan within 24 hours of the Boeing 737 MAX grounding, accommodating all customers booked on the airline’s 737 MAX routes from both New York Stewart International Airport and Providence, as well as launch the new route from Hamilton/Toronto, Canada, to Dublin.
Nonstop services to Cork and Shannon ended in March with the grounding of the 737 MAX aircraft and passengers were rerouted to Dublin flights out of both Providence and Stewart. The service to Dublin from the two U.S. cities and, also Hamilton, Canada, continued, but will now end with the last flight from the U.S. – both Providence and Stewart – on September 14, arriving in Dublin on September 15. The last flight from Hamilton, Canada, will depart September 13. Norwegian will no longer operate any substitute aircraft for the 737 MAX.
This will not affect the airline’s other long-haul services, operated by its Boeing 787 Dreamliner fleet. Norwegian currently operates 46 routes from the U.S. to Europe this summer season, more than any other European airline.
Norwegian would like to thank the partners that made it possible to launch its transatlantic MAX operations back in 2017, specifically the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, New York Stewart International Airport, Providence’s T.F. Green Airport and Tourism Ireland, as well as the John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport.
Top Copyright Photo: Norwegian.com (Norwegian Air Sweden) Boeing 737-8 MAX 8 SE-RTE (msn 42838) BFI (Joe G. Walker). Image: 947301.