May 4, 2020 / 11:01 AM / 22 days ago

Fasten seatbelts: Norwegian Air's battle for survival

(Reuters) - After growing rapidly to become Europe’s third-largest low-cost airline and one of the few to apply the budget model to transatlantic flights, Norwegian Air (NWC.OL) is fighting for its survival after racking up debts and liabilities of close to $8 billion by the end of 2019.

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

Following are key dates in the company’s 27-year history.

2020

May 4: Norwegian Air shareholders back its financial survival plan, with more than 95% of votes cast supporting the conversion of nearly $1 billion of debt into equity and raising more cash from its owners.

May 3: The airline secures support from enough bondholders for a $1 billion debt-for-equity swap, two days after they had rejected the plan [nL8N2CL0DS)

May 1: Norwegian Air bondholders turn down the debt-to-equity plan, but talks continue

April 20: Four pilot and cabin crew subsidiaries of Norwegian Air in Sweden and Denmark file for bankruptcy. The company says some 4,700 pilots and cabin crew members would be affected.

April 8: Norwegian outlines its rescue plan and plans to convert of up to $4.3 billion of its debt into equity and to issue new shares as it seeks to stay in business following the COVID-19 outbreak that has grounded almost all of its fleet.

March 24: The airline receives an initial government cash injection of 300 million Norwegian crowns ($29 million).

March 16: Norwegian says it is cancelling 85% of its flights and temporarily laying off 7,300 employees because of the coronavirus outbreak.

March 5: Company scraps its 2020 earnings guidance and cancels some of its transatlantic flights.

Feb 13: Norwegian says it will make deeper capacity cuts in 2020 than previously announced as it aims to return to profit after three consecutive years of losses.

2019

Nov. 20: Appoints Jacob Schram as CEO. Schram, who does not have a background in aviation, had worked for consulting company McKinsey among previous roles.

Nov. 5: Raises 2.5 billion Norwegian crowns to meet its cash needs through 2020 with its third share sale in two years and a bond issue.

Oct. 17: Agrees a partnership with U.S. airline JetBlue Airways (JBLU.O) that will allow customers to book flights on each others’ aircraft, with a planned startup in mid-2020

Sept. 16: Norwegian’s bondholders accept the company’s plea to postpone repayment of $380 million by up to two years

Aug. 19: Agrees to sell its stake in banking company Norwegian Finans Holding (NOFI.OL) for 2.22 billion crowns.

July 11: Co-founder Bjoern Kjos steps down as CEO.

April 10: Norwegian postpones Airbus plane deliveries scheduled for 2019 and 2020, cutting its capital spending by $570 million.

March 12: Norwegian grounds its Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets after fatal crash in Ethiopia.

Feb. 18-19: Norwegian announces deep-discount share issue at just a third of the market price.

Jan. 24: International Consolidated Airlines Group (ICAG.L) (IAG), the owner of British Airways, says it will not make a bid for Norwegian, and will sell its stake in the company.

2018

May 4: Board confirms that it has received two separate conditional proposals from IAG Group in relation to an acquisition of 100% of its share capital.

April 12: Norwegian is notified that IAG has acquired 4.6% of the shares in the company.

March 21:

Norwegian raises 1.3 billion crowns in a share sale to help fund its expansion and cope with higher fuel costs after warning of a larger than expected loss in the quarter.

2017

July 17: Norwegian’s first flight using the Boeing 737 MAX takes off from Edinburgh.

2015

Oct. 22: Norwegian makes order for 19 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners, more than quadrupling its long-haul fleet.

2013

May 30: Norwegian’s first intercontinental flight departs from Oslo to New York.

2012

Jan. 25: Norwegian orders 122 planes from Boeing, 100 of which are Boeing 737 MAX8. The airline enters also agreement with Airbus about buying 100 Airbus A320neo. In total, the airplanes are worth 127 billion Norwegian crowns.

2011

Feb. 8: Norwegian becomes the first airline to offer free WiFi on board European flights.

2007

April 24: Norwegian buys FlyNordic from Finnair (FIA1S.HE) and becomes the biggest low-cost airline in Scandinavia.

2003

Dec. 18: Norwegian shares are listed on Oslo Stock Exchange.

2002

Sept. 1: Norwegian Air Shuttle (NAS) re-brands as Norwegian and starts operating with Boeing 737-300.

1993

Jan. 22: Norwegian Air Shuttle is founded and takes over regional airline services on Norway’s West Coast. Flights are operated in cooperation with Norwegian airline Braathens. At first, NAS operates with a fleet of three leased Fokker 50.

($1 = 9.4785 Norwegian crowns)

Reporting by Tommy Lund, Paulina Cwikowska, Milla Nissi, Aleksandra Jasiurska; Editing by Keith Weir, Mark Potter and Alexander Smith

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