June 16, 2020 / 11:43 AM / a month ago

Norwegian Air, SAS to add more flights as demand picks up

OSLO/STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Norwegian Air (NWC.OL) and SAS (SAS.ST) are adding more flights to their schedules from July onwards as demand begins to recover following the COVID-19 pandemic, the two Nordic carriers said on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: A Norwegian Air plane is refuelled at Oslo Gardermoen airport, Norway, November 7, 2019. REUTERS/Lefteris Karagiannopoulos/File Photo

SAS will use 40 of its aircraft in July, up from 30 in June, as it adds flights from the Nordics to Spain, Italy and Portugal among others. That is still only around 30% of last year’s level.

“As restrictions and inbound travel rules are relaxed, we are seeing a rise in demand for travel,” SAS said in a statement.

Norwegian will resume flights between Copenhagen and the Danish city of Aalborg from July 1, making it the airline’s first route outside Norway since the lockdown began.

“Norwegian has for several years been the market leader on this route,” the airline said as it announced it would fly three daily round trips between Denmark’s largest and fourth largest cities.

“Many customers have wanted to know when these flights would resume,” Norwegian said.

The budget airline is currently operating just seven aircraft on domestic routes in Norway and has furloughed or terminated the employment of some 7,300 staff, or about 90% of its staff, following the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Norwegian completed a financial restructuring last month, handing control of the firm to its creditors, and said at the time it could potentially wait until 2021 before resuming flights beyond Norway’s borders.

The airline that brought Europe’s low-cost business model to the transatlantic market has said it plans to reinvent itself in a scaled-down version with 110-120 aircraft, against almost 150 before the pandemic.

Rivals such as Lufthansa (LHAG.DE) and Ryanair (RYA.I) have also begun to ramp up their schedules.

Writing by Terje Solsvik; Editing by Gwladys Fouche and Jan Harvey

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