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Norwegian Air reports 91% traffic fall amid search for more cash

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

OSLO (Reuters) - Norwegian Air NORR.OL, which is attempting to secure a second round of financial restructuring, saw a 91% decline in August passenger volume from a year earlier as most of its fleet remained grounded by the coronavirus pandemic, it said on Friday.

The budget carrier has said it will fly 25-30 of its aircraft in the months ahead, while more than 100 remain parked.

Creditors and lessors took control of Norwegian in May with a financial rescue that allowed it to access state-guaranteed loans of 3 billion Norwegian crowns ($336 million) and thus prevent a collapse.

The company said last week it hopes to complete a second refinancing by year-end to avoid running out of funds by April of 2021, and is also in talks with Norway’s government over additional support.

“The prolonged crisis that has impacted every part of the aviation industry continues to create uncertainty in all markets, making the need for a long-term liquidity support package even more critical to protect tourism, jobs and international trade,” CEO Jacob Schram said.

Funding could come from the sale of aircraft, conversion of more debt to equity or from owners and the Norwegian government, the company said on Aug 28, while declining to specify the amount it might seek. The Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise (NHO) has scheduled a meeting with the Norwegian government next week to discuss the needs of airlines such as Norwegian and local rivals SAS SAS.ST and Wideroe.

Norwegian flew 313,316 passengers in August compared to 3.5 million in August 2019.

Only 62.1% of its seats were filled on average, down from 90% a year earlier, Norwegian said.

With its transatlantic business on hold and European routes limited, much of Norwegian’s business is currently concentrated on Norway, Sweden and Denmark.

Reporting by Terje Solsvik; editing by Gwladys Fouche and Jason Neely

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