A team of seven Norwegian aviation veterans plans to launch a new airline by summer 2021 and is looking for financing to get the project off the ground, a press release dated October 6 reveals.

The team is led by businessman Erik Gunnar Braathen, 64, who was chief executive of Braathens SAFE (BU, Oslo Gardermoen) from 1989 to 1999, before it became SAS Braathens in 2004, as well as chairman of the board at Norwegian (DY, Oslo Gardermoen) from 2004 to 2009. He is the brother of travel and tourism mogul Per Braathen, owner of BRA - Braathens Regional Airways and BRA - Braathens Regional Airlines holding company Braganza.

The company, which has created a brief website with few details, nyttflyselskap.no, said its efforts to secure funding are “based on private capital and access to temporary and relevant financial support from the government,” adding that it had already sent a formal request for funding to Norway’s Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Fisheries.

It plans to have five aircraft initially, either A320 family aircraft or B737-800s, and grow to 400 staff by 2022, employed via Norwegian collective labour agreements. Twenty-five people are already working full time to get the carrier up and running. It will focus on a domestic network and routes to “European destinations”.

“We do not believe that the market will return to its previous state before the coronavirus pandemic hit. We are using all our experience and knowledge to build a new Norwegian airline adapted to the new economic reality and passenger demand,” Braathen sketched out in the statement. “We believe it is the right time to start a new airline. We will be able to lease modern aircraft for a reasonable price, hire top-tier staff, and build a digital company with less complexity in order to lower costs and achieve profitability with fewer aircraft.”

Thomas Ramdahl, chief commercial officer - a position he previously held at Norwegian - elaborated: “For a long time, the aviation industry has been characterised by unsustainable volume growth. Our business model does not depend on making people fly even more to achieve profitability. Our flight times and destinations will be based on the demand of Norwegian travellers and be a responsible transportation alternative where train, bus, or car is not a viable option.”

Besides Braathen and Ramdahl, the team includes Brede Huser, a former director of Norwegian Reward; Asgeir Nyseth, a former operations director at Norwegian; Alf Sagen, who was employed at Norwegian in various roles; Bjørn Erik Barman-Jenssen, a former head of ground services and cargo at Norwegian; and Tord Meling, who has a background at Deloitte and Norwegian.