Norwegian (DY, Oslo Gardermoen) will shutter its Norwegian Air International (Dublin Int'l) subsidiary and has told staff in Ireland to prepare for redundancies.

Sources told The Irish Independent newspaper this week that the rejuvenated Scandinavian budget carrier told staff the move is part of plans to cut the number of AOCs it operates from five - Norwegian Air Norway, Norwegian Air International (NAI), Norwegian Air Sweden, Norwegian UK, and Norwegian Air Argentina - to just two.

The ch-aviation fleets advanced module shows Norwegian has already established two new AOCs - Norwegian Air Shuttle AOC (DY, Oslo Gardermoen) and Norwegian Air Sweden AOC (D8, Stockholm Arlanda). The former has seven B737-800s on it of which five are ex-Norwegian jets while the other two are ex-NAI. A further 16 ex-NAI B737-800s are due to be transferred in due course. For its part, Norwegian Air Sweden AOC has assumed twenty-three ex-Norwegian Air Sweden B737-800s.

According to the report, although NAI will not be shutter in the immediate term, consultative talks with staff will shortly begin over retrenchments. The sources told the newspaper that until Norwegian Air Sweden AOC has secured ticket-stock approval, expected in September, NAI will continue to play an important role. Once that has been completed, the Irish subsidiary's importance will diminish considerably, they said.

A Norwegian spokesman has since downplayed the report as being "purely speculation" which does not reflect Norwegian Group's current business objectives.

“NAI is a strategically and commercially important part of the wider Norwegian Group due to specific intra-European routes and ticket sales that are intrinsically linked to NAI. We are right-sizing every aspect of Norwegian across all regions, including our support offices in Norway, this is in line with our now smaller operation and the focus on our core Nordic business,” he said.

Controversial NAI was founded in 2014 and was used as a vehicle for Norwegian to operate transatlantic flights albeit using an EU-flagged carrier.

Its application for US traffic rights elicited a strong response from US airlines and unions which accused Norwegian of trying to use Ireland as a flag of convenience given Irish labour law is significantly more flexible (and therefore cost-effective) than that in Scandinavia. Eventually, however, the US Department of Transportation's granting of a foreign air carrier permit was upheld and flights between Europe and the US started although their profitability, coupled with the B737 MAX grounding debacle, cut short their operation.