Europe’s third-largest budget airline by passenger numbers is already on a big expansion drive. It said it expected to grow its flight capacity by another 35% next year and presented third-quarter results below forecast.
Norwegian has embarked on an ambitious growth plan, buying more than 200 new fuel-efficient jets, in order to try to grab a slice of the lucrative transatlantic market.
The budget long-haul carrier said it would reduce its unit costs, hoping to reassure investors who had been worried by cost inflation at the company.
Yet investors worry its drive to put more passengers on more planes has been pushing up costs quickly without producing higher returns.
A spokesman for Norwegian said flights from Ireland to the US — including Cork’s first ever direct transatlantic route — remained an integral part of operations and would not be impacted by any cost-cutting measures.
“Norwegian continues to plan for ambitious expansion, with many new aircraft arriving in 2018 allowing us to deliver even more new routes and additional flights. It is too early to say where additional routes and capacity will be added in 2018 so, in the Irish market, our immediate focus is on continuing the good start made by our new transatlantic routes,” he said.
Meanwhile, a European pilots’ organisation is launching a crowdfunding campaign, seeking donations from pilots and aviation personnel as well as the public to use in collective bargaining. The European Cockpit Association (ECA), which represents more than 38,000 pilots across Europe and includes the Irish Air Line Pilots’ Association (IALPA) as a member, said it was starting the fund “in the aftermath of the recent flight cancellation crisis in Europe”.
ECA president Dirk Polloczek said funds raised would “provide the necessary support to allow the pilot leaders to focus on their core tasks of organising and negotiating”, adding he wanted the message to go out to pilots that “we’ve got your back”.
The move comes as the British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) asked Ryanair pilots pushing for better working conditions whether they would be willing to take industrial action.
Many Ryanair pilots are employed via third-party agencies, and BALPA said it was also asking them whether they would support a group legal action to establish employee or worker rights.