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Norwegian to Re-Open U.K. Operations
Norwegian announced that it is ready to re-open operations from the UK on July 1 after being suspended for three months. The Oslo-based carrier will operate a few flights from Gatwick and Edinburgh to select destinations in Scandinavia.
In a statement, Norwegian’s CEO Jacob Schram said, “Feedback from our customers has shown that they are keen to get back in the air and resume their travels with Norwegian beyond the current domestic services that we have been operating. Norwegian is returning to European skies with the reintroduction of more aircraft to serve our key destinations which will ensure that we remain in line with competing carriers.”
On the other hand, Gatwick Airport CEO Stewart Wingate commented: “The restart of regular Norwegian services from Gatwick is very welcome news and reflects the strength of the relationship and success the airline has had at Gatwick in recent years, as well as the fact that consumer demand is picking up as more people want to start flying again. For our part, the airport is ready to go and we have implemented a range of measures to protect the wellbeing and safety of both passengers and staff in recent weeks”.
The Scandinavian low-cost carrier will begin flying daily flights from London Gatwick to Oslo and six times a week to Copenhagen. At the same time, the carrier will fly two times a week from Edinburgh to Oslo and Copenhagen. For the past few months, Norwegian had reduced operations to eight destinations within Norway that are vital for the country’s connectivity. Now the airline is preparing to gradually resume operations across Europe.
For such, the airline plans to return 20 Boeing 737-800s back to the skies, returning 300 pilots and 600 cabin crew members to work according to The Evening Standard. In April, the airline had furloughed 7,300 staff, across its subsidiaries. In Denmark and Sweden, the airline’s subsidiaries filed for bankruptcy and laid off 4,000 pilot and cabin crew members, after the governments rejected the carrier’s pledge for government support. Norwegian was able to secure additional capital through a cash injection from aircraft lessor BOC Aviation, in exchange for more than 12% shares in the airline.
Enhanced Sanitary and Social Distancing Measures Onboard
Norwegian is also introducing a series of sanitary and social distance measures to keep passengers safe at all times. These include making wearing face masks compulsory for all passengers over six years old as most airlines across the world have started to enforce, but also restricting the use of overhead lockers to minimize passenger contact. Instead, passengers should store their hand luggage underneath their seats. Roller bags and any other larger items should be checked in.
While Norwegian will not be blocking middle seats, the airline has commented that these will be the last to be filled in.
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