Norwegian (Oslo Gardermoen) is considering shifting its flight operations away from Copenhagen Kastrup Airport to a nearby alternative as staff shortages continue to cause delays at the Danish hub.

A dispute between air traffic controllers, represented by their union, and the state-owned air traffic service Naviair, their employer, has exacerbated a growing shortage of the specialists, resulting in delays for hundreds of thousands of passengers in recent weeks.

The low-cost carrier has reportedly expressed its frustration over the matter to the Danish government and has also discussed the matter with Nordic rival SAS Scandinavian Airlines (SK, Copenhagen Kastrup), according to the news agency Ritzau.

“We have to look at alternative airports that are close to Copenhagen Airport,” Norwegian CEO Geir Karlsen told the newswire. “I don’t know whether that will be possible at such short notice, but this conflict is cause for increasing concern and that concern will grow as capacity increases during the summer.”

According to the ch-aviation capacities module, Norwegian Air Sweden AOC (D8, Stockholm Arlanda) and Norwegian Air Shuttle AOC (DY, Oslo Gardermoen) currently account for around 17% of the total 357,630 weekly seats on offer at Kastrup via 330+ weekly flights. It is second to SAS which runs 830 flights for a total of 119,268 seats/week (33.35%).

Naviair shed 46 air traffic controllers in voluntary layoffs during the pandemic. It recently said it had increased its numbers of trainees, but until they are ready it wants existing staff to work additional shifts. Employees have protested that the overtime is not at a manageable level, adding that they have already taken on 1,500 extra shifts this year.

The Confederation of Danish Industry (Dansk Industri - DI) has urged the transport minister to step in to prevent a “nightmare summer” scenario this summer, but politicians have been reluctant to get involved.

Norwegian said in a statement on May 12 that it was expecting one of its strongest peak seasons ever, but on the sidelines of an earnings presentation Karlsen told Reuters: “We are concerned that there won’t be enough staff over the summer. We are following it very closely. [...] Copenhagen is very, very important to us.” He added that the airline was looking for alternatives for its customers, including moving flights to nearby Malmö in southern Sweden.