Norwegian (DY, Oslo Gardermoen) said on November 9 that it was “very disappointed about the lack of government support” after Oslo announced that the debt-laden carrier would not receive further financial support. Norwegian has stressed that more funds are necessary to maintain operations through the ongoing crisis.

The low-cost long-haul pioneer warned in August that it would run out of cash in the first quarter of 2021 unless it could secure more financing, and it had been holding talks with Norway’s government to obtain it.

“The fact that our government has decided to refrain from providing Norwegian with further financial support is very disappointing and feels like a slap in the face for everybody who is fighting for the company when our competitors are receiving billions in funding from their respective governments,” said chief executive Jacob Schram.

“Based on the number of tourists we fly to Norway, we contribute to sustaining 24,000 people in our country and boost the local economy by approximately NOK18 billion kroner [USD2 billion] per year. That alone clearly demonstrates that even moderate financial support would constitute a profitable investment for Norway. How anyone could come to a different conclusion is impossible to understand,” he added.

Schram told a news conference on the same date, according to Reuters, that “the company and the board will turn every stone to get through this situation [...] but we need ventilator support to get through the winter.”

Norway’s centre-right coalition fosters free enterprise and has ruled out any nationalisation of Norwegian or other airlines.

“We are answerable for the responsible use of public funds,” Iselin Nybø, minister of trade and industry, explained at a press conference earlier in the day. “Norwegian has a financial structure that makes it risky for us to go in with support.”

The carrier has shown great creativity in surviving financial difficulties in the past, the country’s transport minister, Knut Arild Hareide, assured.

Aviation union Parat urged the government to reconsider, with the head of its Norwegian pilots’ section, Alf Wilhelm Hansen, commenting in a statement that “the prospects for the company are not bright.” All of the airline’s pilots are still flying, he said, but “many are in partially laid off solutions.”

“We fear massive layoffs and a reduction of flights down to the very minimum and possibly only the routes the state wants to implement,” he elaborated.

Norwegian said on November 9 that it has 2,300 employees in Norway and “several thousand colleagues” in other countries. Shortly after government's announcement, Norwegian confirmed it would furlough an additional 1,600 colleagues and park 15 of the 21 aircraft it has been operating over the past few months.

"Prior to Covid-19, Norwegian employed more than 10,000 people, but in the coming months, there will be only 600 colleagues employed. Our goal is to keep six aircraft on domestic routes in Norway, and I expect that Norwegian will also receive route support from the Ministry of Transportation, as previously announced,” Schram said in a statement.

Brynjar Forbergskog, principal owner of Torghatten, a Brønnøysund-based transport company that owns regional carrier Widerøe (WF, Bodø), told the newspaper Dagens Næringsliv that he may be interested in taking on some of Norwegian’s aircraft and employees if the carrier goes under.

“You can probably count on us following these things closely,” he said, while the company's chief executive Roger Granheim commented: “It is a hypothetical question. Right now, Norwegian is alive. If that should change, we will consider that situation.”