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Norwegian could be nationalised

Oliver Gill
·1-min read
Norwegian plane
Norwegian plane

Norwegian could be nationalised under radical plans being considered by government officials in Oslo.

Political leaders in Norway’s ruling coalition have indicated that they favour bailing out the struggling budget carrier rather than the older flag carrier SAS.

Airline bosses have held talks with the government last week, local media reported.

Jon Gunnes, transport policy spokesman for the Liberal Party, said supporting Norwegian was “very important”.

Before the pandemic struck Norwegian was one of the biggest airlines operating from Gatwick airport behind easyJet and British Airways.

It had been offering cut-price flights to several cities in North America as well as more distant destinations including Rio and Buenos Aires.

Norwegian landed a £250m government bailout in March that wiped out shareholders and required creditors such as banks and aircraft leasing companies to agree to a £1.2bn debt-for-equity swap.  

However, faced with a prolonged period of uncertainty, boss Jacob Schram admitted last month that the injection was “not enough to get through this prolonged crisis”.

Airline job cuts to date
Airline job cuts to date

Options on the table are understood to include Oslo taking a major stake in the airline for a temporary period of time, according to industry sources.

Shareholders would be forced to inject fresh capital or have their stakes diluted.

The Norwegian state jointly-owned SAS for years alongside the governments of Denmark and Sweden, but Oslo sold its stake in 2018.

Mr Gunnes suggested that it would be easier for the Danish and Swedish governments to rescue SAS.