Norway’s small domestic airline Widerøe cancelled several more scheduled flights late this week, disrupting travel plans for scores of passengers. Like their bigger rival Norwegian Air, the airline lacks enough flight crews.
“Some of the cancellations have been warned in advance, but we had to cancel some additional flights the last two days and today,” Widerøe’s information chief Catharina Solli told news bureau NTB on Friday. She wouldn’t say exactly how many passengers were affected but airports agency Avinor reported that cancelled flights included Oslo-Førde, Kristiansand-Bergen, Bergen-Aberdeen, Tromsø-Kirkenes and Tromsø-Hammerfest-Honningsvåg.
Solli blamed the cancellations on a flight schedule that was planned 18 months ago, followed by more pilots and flight crews taking retirement this spring than expected. Others are working reduced shifts “and that’s also hit our staffing.”
Widerøe initially had to cancel around 100 flights this month because of the staffing shortage. Solli insisted that passengers are being alerted to a cancellation with a text message followed up by an email with an alternative routing proposal. If that’s not acceptable, “we find a solution with the customer and also offer full refunds if we can’t find a solution.”
Widerøe receives state funding to operate many of its flights to small airports around Norway. State authorities are not pleased by the cancellations and the transport ministry is following the situation closely. “We have a strict demand for regularity in our contract with the company,” ministry spokesman Tor Midtbø told newspaper Helgelands Blad. “The threat of funding withdrawals weighs heavily in how the airline sets its priorities.”