Norwegian Air exits restructuring process

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Norwegian Air Sweden Boeing 737-800 plane SE-RRJ approaches Riga International Airport in Riga, Latvia January 17, 2020. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins

OSLO (Reuters) -Norwegian Air emerged from six months of bankruptcy protection on Wednesday with a smaller fleet and its debt almost wiped out, the budget carrier said, but also facing stronger competition and a lingering uncertainty wrought by the pandemic.

The budget airline said on Friday it had raised 6 billion Norwegian crowns ($721 million) in fresh capital, as planned, more than enough to meet the minimum requirement set by bankruptcy courts in Dublin and Oslo.

The COVID-19 pandemic threw Norwegian, an already indebted carrier, into a crisis in early 2020, forcing it eventually to terminate large parts of its operations, including its transatlantic network.

The company now has 51 aircraft, down from a pre-pandemic 156, while its debt amounts to between 16 billion and 18 billion Norwegian crowns, down from more than 80 billion, it said.

“All 51 aircraft will be operated based on ‘Power by the Hour’ agreements through (the first quarter of) 2022 which significantly increase the company’s flexibility and limit lease payments in the event of a prolonged period with challenging markets due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the company said.

($1 = 8.3167 Norwegian crowns)

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