Norwegian CEO Bjørn Kjos steps down

A Norwegian Air Shuttle Boeing 737-800. Photo: © Andy Mitchell

Norwegian Air Shuttle founder and CEO Bjørn Kjos will step down effective immediately, the company has announced.

The 72-years old Kjos took over as CEO of the company in 2002 and is responsible for the rapid expansion in previous years. He transformed the 1993-established Norwegian regional carrier into Europe’s third biggest low-cost airline with subsidiaries in Sweden, the UK, Ireland and Argentina.

At the same time, the struggling carrier has announced a Q2 net profit of US$9.2 million and says it will cut several year-round long-haul routes to summer seasonal routes.

Norwegian has accumulated a debt of over US$500 million during the past years and has seen two failed takeover bids from British Airways parent IAG (International Airlines Group).

The airline originally started only with short-haul flights in Norway before Kjos took the role as CEO and transformed Norwegian into a rapidly expanding airline. Long-haul flights were started in early 2013 with flights from Oslo and Stockholm to New York and Bangkok. Norwegian and its various subsidiaries operate a combined fleet of 162 aircraft, most of them being Boeing 737-800 and the currently grounded 737 MAX 8 as well as 36 Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft.

Previously, the airline announced that it will close several crew bases to improve its overall operation. The Argentinian subsidiary is also not doing as well as expected and has been given a few more months to improve load factors and revenue, otherwise it would be shut down. 90 ordered Airbus A320neo family aircraft (ordered by Norwegian’s leasing company Arctic Aviation Assets) have also been put up for sale.