March 17, 2020 / 6:57 PM / 17 days ago

Norwegian Air asks for similar help to regional rival SAS

OSLO (Reuters) - Struggling Norwegian Air (NWC.OL) needs government support similar to that which SAS (SAS.ST) received from the Danish and Swedish governments if it is to protect jobs in Norway as demand is strangled by the coronavirus outbreak.

The Danish and Swedish governments on Tuesday pledged to provide credit guarantees to SAS (SAS.ST) totalling 3 billion Swedish crowns ($302 million).

“We hope that similar measures will soon be offered for Norwegian in the form of a credit facility,” the airline, which has decided to cancel 85% of its flights, said in a statement.

The Norwegian carrier’s plea comes as airlines across the globe seek support to avoid multiple bankruptcies as coronavirus disruption wreaks havoc across the sector.

Norway’s minority government last week said it was looking at measures to help the industry, and the opposition on Monday called for specific measures to protect jobs and companies.

A pioneer in transatlantic budget travel since 2013, Norwegian Air quickly became the largest foreign airline serving New York and a major player at other U.S. airports.

The company has suspended all flights to the United States after U.S. President Donald Trump extended restrictions on travel from Europe. From March 21 the airline will primarily fly a reduced schedule in Norway and between the Nordic capitals.

Reporting by Nerijus Adomaitis; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and David Goodman

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