Norwegian Cancels Long Haul Flights, Lays Off 90% Of Employees

Filed Under: Norwegian

This shows you just how quickly this situation is evolving. Just a few days ago Norwegian announced that they’d ground 40% of planes and lay off up to 50% of employees, and now the company has announced that they’ll cancel 85% of flights and lay off 90% of employees.

Norwegian’s flight cuts & layoffs

Due to stagnating demand and new travel restrictions by authorities worldwide, Norwegian has announced that they’ll gradually cancel most flights and temporarily lay off a vast majority of their employees.

The company hopes to maintain their schedule as much as possible this week, to ensure customers are able to return to their home destinations. The airline is also working with authorities to arrange flights for stranded passengers.

While no exact number has been given, “most” planes are being parked, and Norwegian has to lay off more than 7,300 employees, which equates to 90% of their workforce, including pilots, cabin crew, maintenance, and administrative staff.

The procedures for layoffs varies by country, given the “creative” employment contracts that Norwegian has. The company is in discussions with unions to decide how best to go about this.

Norwegian’s CEO had the following to say:

“It is indeed with a heavy heart we have to temporarily lay off more than 7,300 of our colleagues, but we unfortunately have no choice. However, I want to emphasize that this is temporary, because when the world returns to normalcy my goal is to keep as many of our dedicated colleagues as possible.”

Norwegian is canceling most flights

Norwegian cancels all long haul flights

Norwegian has already canceled thousands of flights. As of March 21:

  • The airline will fly primarily domestically within Norway, and between Nordic capitals
  • Some European flights will still be operated
  • All intercontinental flights are canceled, except flights between Scandinavia and Thailand, which will operate through the end of March

Norwegian is canceling virtually all long haul flights

The end of Norwegian, or is there a silver lining?

Naturally one might assume that this is the nail in the coffin for Norwegian. The airline has struggled to stay alive for a long time, and understandably a global crisis like this is terrible for all airlines.

Even those airlines that were in a good position financially months ago are at risk of going bankrupt within months, so the situation is even worse for an airline that was already short on cash.

However, with governments helping out airlines, could there be a silver lining for Norwegian? Presumably in some ways they’re benefiting from being able to ground their planes, and it seems Norwegian’s management is confident they’ll get government help.

As Norwegian’s CEO explains it:

“What our industry is now facing is unprecedented and critical as we are approaching a scenario where most of our airplanes will be temporarily grounded. Several governments in Europe have already said they will do everything they can to ensure that their airlines can continue to fly when society returns to normalcy. We appreciate that the authorities of Norway have communicated that they will implement all necessary measures to protect aviation in Norway, consequently securing crucial infrastructure and jobs.”

Could Norwegian get help from the government?

Bottom line

I feel bad for all the aviation industry professionals who are losing their jobs as a result of this situation. Norwegian is cutting virtually long haul flights and laying off 90% of their employees as a result of this situation.

Only time will tell if this is more or less the end for Norwegian, or if this ends up giving them an extra lifeline

What do you think this whole situation means for Norwegian?

Comments
  1. Karma Ben, these same airlines who price gouge during school summer holidays. Feel very sorry for the employees but why the hell should my taxes go to subsidise loss making airlines?

  2. What’s incredibly frustrating is that my wife and I are on one of those flights and can’t affirmatively cancel on my own without losing the cost of the flight, but, despite the press release, they won’t flip the flight to cancelled in their system so that I can get a refund. Called them last night and they said best bet was just to wait. But I assume assets that could be used for refunds are flowing out of the company every hour, and somehow they are also still selling tickets to the flights that are supposedly cancelled.

  3. Something I’ve never understood. When Norwegian flys between two non-Norway countries, are these 7th Freedom flights? New York to London, LA to Rome, etc.

  4. People grossly dismiss the severity of the virus and everyone is now paying for it. People are losing fortunes in the market, couple that with reduced or no paychecks and things won’t be the same for quite some time.

    Chase, Amex, etc. are going to be losing tons of money as well since without income, people don’t spend and without spending they aren’t getting their cut. And I’m sure many will cancel AF cards.

    Gonna be a rough couple of months (I’m hoping that is all but who really knows especially with the lack of action in the US and UK). Airports should have been closed to all flights except returning people to their home country a few weeks ago.

    Real estate will be the next domino to fall.

  5. I highly doubt that Norweigan will even make it past the COVID-19 situation. Grounding planes results in paying more bucks to the airports and with only considering 10 percent of revenue coming to them, I would say, they would hardly last for a couple of months. It sucks to see an airline go bankrupt, but yeah, COVID-19 is really the survival of the fittest.

    P.S- Should you have any upcoming flights on Norweigan, make sure you have your travel insurance or booked it with a credit card that has valid travel insurance. After all, not all airlines like Air Italy rebook passengers during times of crisis like these. 😉

  6. @Srihari B ha–I just want them to actually cancel the flights in early April that they’ve publicly stated are cancelled! But agree, so far they are only offering rebooking for no change fee, and given potential duration of COVID-19 crisis and their own financial troubles, I can’t imagine many are taking them up on that generous offer.

  7. There’s getting help from the government and there’s Norwegian. Norwegian are in such financial dire straits that the Norwegian government would have to spend billions on an airline that is Norwegian only in name. The vast majority of their flights have nothing to do with Norway. As they’ve grown they’ve cared less about Norway and more about a completely unnecessary Argentinian subsidiary and attempting to take on the aviation giants like BA. Essentially Norwegian are about to ask the Norwegian taxpayers to bail out an airline that has massively overstretched themselves. The Norwegian government are more likely to bail out Wideroe because they are vital to their regional connectivity and partly bail out SAS as it’s the flag carrier of the region. Norwegian will probably go bankrupt and the larger and more financially stable airlines such as IAG and easyJet will buy the remnants of the airline. I bet IAG have their eyes on the Gatwick operations.

  8. in orlando. flight is oomed cor tuesday 1030pm. what is the chances of me leaving Orlando tomorrow. i like it here so not too bothered

  9. March 16 and they’re still selling tickets for the DEN – CDG long haul flight. C’mon, Norwegian, time to get the info to your web programmers. Call it, and let us get on with rectifying cancellation insurance.

  10. +1 Jeff

    Yes they are still selling tix and have not been actually updating status to reflect cancelled flights – maybe they laid off all the webdev folks. DEN-CDG $200!

  11. This is absurd. More than 7,000 people out of a job. How are they supposed to get by when so many things are shutting down? This isn’t anymore about saving the airline(s), but the people who work for them.

  12. They cancelled my round trip LAX-BCN flights, gave me the option to refund, so now i wait…

  13. @Robert F. – Norwegian has a complex structure which is in a way made up of several airlines, each of which is registered in a different country. It’s the same way Ryanair and Easyjet are able to operate flights throughout Europe while not having to stick to Ireland, for example.

  14. It seems like LAX flights getting cancelled more quickly than JFK ones, anecdotally. Stephanie, how far out was yours?

  15. I booked two ar/t tickets in February from lax to Copenhagen with stop over in Gattwick end of April with Norwegian airlines which I want to cancel due to the current health crisis and the fact I am elderly.
    Despite the travel insurance we have, and the fact
    I am over 65, my understanding is that if I
    cancel myself, there is no refund.
    And Norwegian won’ t confirm
    Whether they will cancel the flight or not until 72 hours before departure, and you can’t get hold of them on the phone. I booked the flight via cheapoair that you can’t connect with either.
    Any suggestions how to get the refund for our two tickets?($2000)
    which I feel we are entitled to during the current health scare.

  16. Norwegian why are you not cancelling flights to Tenerife and offering a refund when you know they are on official lockdown. Absolutely disgusting and money grabbing.

  17. Not encouraging–just received:

    Cancel your booking and get CashPoints

    In light of the travel restrictions due to Covid-19, we’re offering a ticket refund issued as CashPoints if you no longer wish to travel.

    You can cancel your booking and submit a request for a ticket refund as CashPoints. Find out more and see if you’re eligible here : http://www.norwegian.com/updates (site in English)

    We hope this helps with any changes you need to make to your plans during this unprecedented event.

  18. My wife and I have tickets for May 11 from Oslo to Miami. We are no longer going to Europe, our transatlantic cruise was cancelled but Norwegian says nothing about the flight. I hope I can get me money back with my credit card.

    If they go under I will miss them. I’ve flown with them across the Atlantic many times

  19. I got an email from Norwegian informing me I have the option to cancel my flight (scheduled for May: US to Spain) for cashpoints. I submitted the form and my flight was canceled. I don’t know other people’s experiences.

  20. I think the fear is that Norwegian are pushing individuals who want certainty of getting some value for their flight to cancel now for cashpoints (a potentially value-less currency) and then the airline will only officially cancel flights (thereby triggering cash refunds) at the last minute or not at all, once they have “refunded” most of the booked passengers via this cashpoint offer and come closer to bankruptcy by using their remaining cash reserves to pay other 3rd parties.

  21. @JB you’re right about Norwegian’s setup, but that’s not the same as FR and U2, airlines in EU can operate from and between any EU country.

    If FR or U2 wanted to operate between two third countries, of which one or both were outside the EU (or European airspace for which the agreement is in place), they’d either need the different setup referred, or they’d need fifth freedom rights.

  22. I have flights jfk to rome for may. We were taking a cruise out of italy. All flights to italy are cancelled thru may 31 per articles i seen about norwegisn but yet they wont let me know my flight is cancelled only affected. I am working with credit card company to disbute charges i dont want their useless cashpoints since wont be flying there mow ever to take a cruise plus they will be belly up soon. I feel bad for the staff not the airline itself.

  23. I have two flights scheduled: Denver to Rome, and London to Denver. I got the CashPoints email regarding the London to Denver flight only.

  24. I feel sorry for those of you who were offered cashpoints as your refund. My roundtrip flights from Denver to Rome were cancelled on March 14th, and I was able to request a full refund for the tickets. Nothing regarding cashpoints.

  25. Hello all, I have a flight for June from LAX to London. The thing is, I planned this trip with Family members who have bever travelled before to Europe, and some have not even been in a plane before. I purchased the tickets since November. We have spent thousands of dollars. I made a system to purchase airline tickets, hotels, airbnbs, train tickets, etc. Once every month, this is how we made it possible to plan for this trip going to London, Belgium, Paris, Rome, and Barcelona. I am not interested in going anymore. However, I have a question, how can I get a refund? I have the travel insurance that they offer, but I know that they do not just give you the money for “fears” and also because now it is named a Pandemic. However, I purchased all this back in November. What are my best options? I do not want the cash points because I also fear they will go bankrupt. Should I Cancel and provide “medical documents” stating that my doctor advised me not to travel because _____ reason (I am not saying fake, but take the quotations mark for what they could mean in a desperate scenario where I can lose a lot of money) and hope they give me a refund? Should I contact my Credit Card company? Luckily I purchased through my credit Card. Should I try to deal with Norwegian over the phone? Thank you so much for reading this. Have a great day.

  26. I’m getting in touch with my credit union.

    Norwegian took funds for a flight. That flight will not happen per their cancellation. The status of my refund is unknown. This is charging for a good and not proving it. This is fraud.

    They are not answering there phones. Just completed an online chat. The person had no information about my refund other than it was being processed. I asked for a time line. They had none. I asked for the number of refunds being processed in a day. No information regarding that. Finally, what place am I in the wait for a refund. She was unable to give me any more information about my “refund” in “process.”

    Don’t get caught holding the bag. Claim fraud on your ticket while Banks and credits companies have employees showing up to work.

    Fraud is offering a good, selling it, then not delivering it. Refunds take very little time and can be automated. This is a willful delay.

    Bankruptcy sounds like the best option for them. Not sure how that works internationally. But in the US, consumers are the last people to receive compensation. Banks, corporations and investors always get “made whole” before the average Joe.

    Be polite and kind with Representatives. We are all going through a lot. It is not the person your dealing with, it’s the corporation as a whole. The nicer you are with the representative, the more they will help you.

    Call your bank. Call your credit card company. Claim fraud.

    Good luck!

  27. Hello, I am not so much commenting but just wondering. Should I cancel my flight that arrives to Norway the 29th of April? I am so scared I won’t be able to make my trip due to this virus thing. I will still want to go, even if there is a risk of getting sick. I am not scared of the virus in that sense, I am just worried it will ruin my summer plans. I am just wondering whether the border will be open or not?

  28. Hey Ed Brock, if you ever get results from that please let us know. I will call my credit card company today as well. Good luck!

  29. I need to change my flight due to this situation from LAX to Paris.
    I cant get a hold of anyone…………. Not my agent, not Norwegian’s email or phone numbers
    Please advise.

  30. I have flight from London Gatwick to Austin, Texas on 26 March, not cancelled yet – will it be cancelled 100%? If so, what can I do proactively?

    Thank you

  31. I have flight from London Gatwick to Austin, Texas on 26 March, not cancelled yet – will it be cancelled 100%? If so, what can I do proactively?

    Thank you!

  32. They are getting desperate to rebook/pay in cashpoints/do anything short of pay refunds, but I wonder if 48 hours from now is when they will cancel? just received:

    As a result of this unprecedented situation across the aviation industry due to the spread of Covid-19, we know that many of our customers want to change their travel plans.

    As travel advice continues to change, we know that some customers will want to get home as soon as possible. If your travel needs are critical, then we ask that you rebook your flight within the next 48 hours to ensure that you travel at the earliest possible opportunity.

    Before making any changes, be sure to read our full rebooking information here

    If you have a booking over the next few days and do not intend to travel, please consider changing your booking in order to allow others who can currently travel the opportunity to return home.

    If you wish to use your ticket at a later date, we are offering a full refund in CashPoints which allows you to book another flight at your convenience without having to choose a destination or date immediately.

    If you’d like to make changes to your booking, please make sure you read all the relevant information and claim for cashpoints here

    We want to assure you that our top priority is to support all of our customers and we are working continuously to help get you home or rearrange your travel plans.

  33. We are inte the same spot, got offered Cash-Points for our flights Gothenburg – Gatwick -Austin, and New York – Gatwick – Gothenburg. April 22 to May 6.
    Should we really be taking the cash-points or claim a refund, or wait for it all to get canceled?

  34. @Mike J. The price gouging that you describe is called supply and demand. It subsidises all those really cheap flights at other times. YOu don’t have to fly on holiday if you do not wish to pay for it.

  35. @ Danny Bakker he also can participate in society and take advantage of existing economic realities while still grumbling over its negative impacts. This post asks him to feel sorry, he notes he does not. Doesn’t mean he doesn’t realize how supply and demand works or take advantage of it (also, airlines are a heavily regulated industry with barriers to entry, federal regulations, unusual opportunity costs to grounding fleets, and inelastic demand, so it’s not “normal” supply and demand”)

  36. I don’t know what to do. My flight April 1st LAX -Gatwick-Sthlm. Got offered cash points. But I’m afraid Norvegian Going to bankrupt.

  37. Since I’m sure everyone was wondering with baited breath, my early April NYC-LON roundtrip just had the outbound leg cancelled. No notice or anything like that, I just logged in and saw a strikethrough in my bookings. Recommend others check too. Immediately opted to request refund, applied for both the cancelled outbound and the not-yet-cancelled-return and made a note in the special comments section that I was requesting for both legs because it was a roundtrip purchase. Will let others know if/when this actually results in cash back on my card. Good luck to all.

  38. They won’t flip the flight to cancelled so I can get a refund. Also they are still selling tickets for flights that they won’t be taking . So wrong! Guess I will have to dispute on my credit card.

  39. My May 1st BOS to CDG is not cancelled nor the return May 11th, yet I know they will not be flying it. They still sell tickets on that one as I can still book the flight. Bought them with a credit card that covers trip cancellations, but I have already paid the bill. Should I contact them and place a fraud complaint on the transaction. I thought maybe Norwegians are a little better than let’s say the British that will nickel and dime you at the slightest chance.

  40. I had tickets to NY from Madrid and Back in London. Both were cancelled and I completed claims for refunds on their website. Already been a week since that. Wondering how much time would last since Norwegian will actually do the payment. I read the law and the term should be max 7 days. Anyone received their refund yet?

  41. Still waiting for refund on flights they cancelled. I accepted the refund over a week ago. Has anyone actually received their promised refunds?

  42. No, @evan. In the same situation. My first cancelled flight for which i claimed a refund was on 17th march and i filled the claim on 12th.

  43. I filed a claim on March 19th for cancelled roundtrip tickets with initial departure date April 8. They did say that they had no timeframe for processing but would do so in strict order of form completion. Presumably you will know before me if they send out any intermediary notifications of timeframe or other details but the data points are helpful.

  44. Hi Bryan did you actually receive a refund or are you still expecting it? I was also told a refund request had been filed for me by telephone on the 15th but it has not gone through yet and it’s been 7 working days.

  45. Norwegian story of refund:
    When I booked tickets through E-dreams on Norwegian they split payment between 2 payments. One payment went to Norwegian and other to Edream.

    The norwegian airlines is another headache. They promised me refund for the whole fare but has not issued one for 2 weeks. When I inquired about refund they are asking me to contact Edream for the split payment part I talked about as above. The Edream simply does not answer phone. The Norwegian says because of volume of cancellations it will take 2 weeks to 1 month. If they go bankrupt they do not owe me anything and simply dodged my hard earned money.

    Almost waited 3 hrs in the morning and 3 hrs in the afternoon on Edreams customer line with no luck. I do not understand when there are not many flights in the air due to Corona virus why the customer service sucks so much.Another interesting part is Norwegian has promised me to issue refund to my credit card. However the other part of split payment is going to the card which is not mine. The Norwegian thinks it is Edream’s corporate card for some reason.

    I am quite surprised that Edream’s and Norwegian business practices are not only complex but very confusing to the customers. It means they may issue refund to Edream and then Edream may refund to me eventually.

    Tired of going back and forth between Norwegian and Edream. Learned lesson for lifetime that I will never ever go through either Norwegian or Edream.

  46. I kept trying to check flight status for an April Austin to Gatwick. It wouldn’t show anything and said to check later for anything more than 2 days out. Thanks to this website, I registered with Norwegian, and checked flight status. Showed all was well and then checked our friends’ flight status (same flights) and theirs showed cancelled. Hit that refund button, then rechecked mine – now showing both flights cancelled. Got that refund initiated also! So keep checking and do it after logging in. Now, I don’t know how long the refund will take – but I copied everything as I saw it and I have saved it for my credit card company, in case they will pay as a chargeback, in case Norwegian refund does not come through.

  47. Dont take the cashpoints if you do you will never get a refund and you cant trust that they will survive this. I have flights in may round trip jfk to rome. I know all flights are cancelled at least until may 31. Norwegian wont put cancelled just say “affected” they are trying to get you to cancel or accept cash points. Dont fall for it. This is fraud when they know all their flights are cancelled yet wont ket you contact them or just issue refunds. I also charged these tickets almost a year ago july 2019 when everything was fine. I contacted my credit card company and put in a dispute because there are no flights going out and they know it. I was given a temporary refund thru my credit card while they work on this for me….don’t give in let them cancel. Per us dept of transportation if flight cancelled you are entitled to full refund regardless of what ticket type you purchased.

  48. Does anyone know if any refunds have been issued by Norwegian since the COVID-19 related flight cancellations started? I first submitted claims on 24/3 and have heard nothing. Are they waiting for a bailout from the Norwegian government before starting to pay out?

  49. I caved after a month had gone by from my flight cancellation/refund request. Called Chase Sapphire Reserve desk last week and the rep there cheerfully cancelled my charges from 2020 (even though some were from early January) and put me through to a much ruder lady who grilled me suspiciously about the charges I placed in 2019 but temporarily credited while they review. Reminds me I should check on how that’s going. Norwegian has done absolutely nothing to earn my trust on this matter so (with some regret) I felt I needed to reverse the charges through my bank. Think I was on hold for about an hour, not really so bad in the scheme of things given their claims of apocalyptic wait times.

  50. update: I new for a long time my jfk to rome flights in May were cancelled but Norwegian would only put “affected”. I tried to contact them but they would not accept any calls so i said i will wait i know they are cancelled and I will deal with my credit card company. I put in a dispute in march and chase refunded me the money temporarily while they investigate the situation. I never spoke with Norwegian or cancelled my flights. Today i received a email from Norwegian stating: Thank you for contacting us with your claim. (I didn’t) We can see from our records that you have take a case with your credit card company and in light of this, we regrettably, will be unable to communicate with you regarding your case. We apologize for any inconvenience cause. Best Regards Customer Relations. As i stated i never called or cancelled my flight but knew they were not flying in May to Rome. I was pro-active since they would not accept calls or emails no way to contact them. I also noticed by the end of march my reservation somehow disappeared and i was not able to log on or see my reservation. I knew by that time my credit card was on it. Hopefully this information will help others who are on the fence about being forced to take “credits” or getting a refund.

  51. update: as of yesterday the temporary credit became permanent credit from chase. Fully refunded for a non-refundable flight that was basically cancelled by Norwegian from JFK to Rome round trip was scheduled for May 17th . Good luck everyone there is hope in getting reimbursement.

  52. I requested on March 19, gave up and called my CC April 18, and on Thursday got a note from Norwegian that they would refund in full. For some reason Chase had had questions regarding one of the five transactions in my dispute (an upgrade to Premium posted in December ) but I sent them this letter and it seems to have been enough to tip them over into at least a temp adjustment in my favor while they wait for the funds to hit from Norwegian.

  53. Update: i had tickets to NY and return in march and they were both cancelled. I chose the refund option and two weeks ago i have called my bank to help me get the money bank. In response, Norwegian returned my money today. Good luck to all of u as well!

  54. Hi guys, what is the number you’re using to call them? i am still waiting for a refund since 17/03, i completed the request and never heard from them again.

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