Scandinavian airlines cancel thousands of flights and lay off most of their employees

Both SAS and Widerøe are canceling thousands of departures in Norway. (Thomas Nilsen/The Independent Barents Observer)
Demand for air travel is essentially non-existent due to the coronavirus outbreak and airlines like SAS, Norwegian and Widerøe have therefore decided to put most of its flights on hold.

Flights to northern regions of Norway, Sweden and Finland get canceled as winter tourism plunges and further travel restrictions are enforced.

Norwegian Air on Monday said it will cancel 85% of its flights and temporarily lay off 7,300 of its employees.

The move follows SAS that on Sunday announced a temporary lay off affecting 90% of its workforce. That is 10,000 employees, mostly in the Scandinavian countries.

Norwegian Air on Monday said it will cancel 85% of its flights and temporarily lay off 7,300 of its employees. (Thomas Nilsen/The Independent Barents Observer)

Widerøe, the regional airlines flying to Norway’s extensive network of short-haul airports, says it will cut every second flight and temporarily lay off 1,000 employees.

The crises in the air businesses now are considered more difficult than during the 2008 financial crisis, the 9/11 terror and the air travel disruption after the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull volcano eruption.

Norwegian Air says in a press release it has to temporarily lay off 90% of its workforce.

“What our industry is now facing is unprecedented and critical as we are approaching a scenario where most of our airplanes will be temporarily grounded. Several governments in Europe have already said that they will do everything they can to ensure that their airlines can continue to fly when society returns to normalcy. We appreciate that the authorities of Norway have communicated that they will implement all necessary measures to protect aviation in Norway, consequently securing crucial infrastructure and jobs,” said CEO Jacob Schram of Norwegian.

Airlines can’t fly with empty seats. (Thomas Nilsen/The Independent Barents Observer)

Norwegian will maintain a few routes to the northern parts of Scandinavia, including one daily flight from Oslo to Alta/Kirkenes, two daily flights to Tromsø, Bodø and Evenes, and three flights a week to Svalbard.

In Sweden, there will be two weekly departures from Stockholm to Luleå and Umeå, and four weekly flights to Kiruna.

In Finland, Norwegian Air will operate one daily departure from Helsinki to both Rovaniemi and Oulu and six weekly flights to Kittilä.

Only a few flights to the northern regions of Scandinavia will still be in service. (Thomas Nilsen/The Independent Barents Observer)

SAS are posting daily updates on which flights are to be canceled, but planes are the nearest days flying from Oslo to northern airports like Bodø, Evenes, Bardufoss, Tromsø, Alta, and Kirkenes.

Widerøe has restrictions on international flights, but for Monday, all domestic flights within Norway are on flying, the company informs.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Canada’s Inuit could be disproportionally affected by coronavirus, says national organization, Eye on the Arctic

Finland: Finland’s first coronavirus case confirmed in Lapland, Yle News

Norway: Norway cancels NATO Arctic military exercise due to coronavirus outbreak, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Coronavirus: Russia hints it might close its border with Norway, Finland, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Swedish Public Health Agency says border closures ‘won’t work’ against coronavirus spread, Radio Sweden

United States: Arctic cruise operators brace for coronavirus uncertainty, Alaska Public Media

Thomas Nilsen, The Independent Barents Observer

For more news from the Barents region visit The Independent Barents Observer.

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