Low-fare airline Norwegian Air claimed it was forced to cancel a string of flights both Friday and into the weekend, stranding thousands of passengers both abroad and in Norway. State airports agency Avinor reported that at least 18 Norwegian Air flights were cancelled on Saturday.
Not only were passengers stuck at airports from Malaga and Nice to Split and Szczecin, they also were left waiting for hours and hours in Bergen, Oslo, Kristiansand, Stavanger and Molde, without knowing whether they’d eventually reach their destinations.
Marianne Rygh, who had been on holiday with eight friends in Provence, was among 180 passengers stuck at the airport in Nice on Friday after their flight home to Stavanger was cancelled. “I have tried to call (Norwegian’s) customer service without getting through,” Rygh told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK), after being told at the airport that there wouldn’t be another flight available for them until Monday. “We wonder whether we’re going to get our expenses covered (through the weekend). It’s frustrating when you can’t talk with them.”
Passengers were given a voucher and told to find their own hotels, but coverage of other unexpected costs were unclear. In Oslo, one man on his way to a funeral in Bulgaria was afraid he’d miss it, after his flight to Varna was also cancelled. A cheerleading group heading for a weekend competition in central Europe were also due to miss it.
Norwegian Air’s communications chief Anne-Sissel Skånvik blamed the flight cancellations on a lack of aircraft and pilots. “In addition we had some cases of acute illness (among cabin crew),” Skånvik told NRK. “We’re in a difficult situation.”
The delays and cancellations came during one of the busiest travel times of the year, as thousands of Norwegians head off on summer holidays. Norwegian Air, simply couldn’t carry out its flight schedule when it lacked stand-by crews.
Miserable week for Norwegian Air
“We have found some alternatives for affected passengers, and some have chosen to arrange their own alternatives,” Linda Olsen, another spokesperson for Norwegian, told NRK. “Unfortunately there are many fully booked flights both for us and other airlines now in the summer period, so the alternatives we can offer aren’t as good as they (passengers) would like.”
The lengthy delays and cancellations topped a miserable week for Norwegian Air, which was hit by a diving share price, labour setbacks and customer complaints over the airline’s efforts to collect a tax on flights for which passengers already had paid, and news that the airline faces more legal challenges over its use of cheaper foreign crews on aircraft registered in Norway. Newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) reported Saturday that the country’s largest labour confederation LO is suing on the grounds that only people with legal working permission in Norway can work on board Norwegian-registered aircraft.