Wednesday 17 July 2019

Norwegian Air CEO Bjoern Kjos steps down

(Stock image)
(Stock image) Business Desk

Bjoern Kjos stepped down on Thursday as chief executive of Norwegian Air, the airline said on Thursday.

He will will continue in a new role as an adviser to the company's chairman, the company added.

Chief financial officer Geir Karlsen will act as interim CEO, while the company recruits a permanent, new CEO.

Mr Kjos, a former fighter pilot, helped to build a tiny Norwegian airline housed in pre-fabricated barracks on the edge of Oslo airport into Europe's third-biggest budget carrier by passenger numbers.

The airline has shaken up the long-haul market with cut-price transatlantic fares, but its rapid expansion has left it with hefty losses and high debts and it had to raise NOK3bn (€310m) from shareholders earlier this year.

"I am confident that the board of directors will find the best qualified successor to lead the next chapters of the Norwegian story together with the top management team," Kjos, 72, said in a statement.

The airline also said it expected its 18 grounded Boeing 737 MAX aircraft to return to service in October, compared with its previous view that they would return to service in August.

The jets have been grounded worldwide since March following two fatal crashes and Norwegian Air has said the disruption could scupper its plans to return to profitability this year.

The company also reported second-quarter earnings that beat expectations on Thursday.

Its net profit came in at NOK82.8m (€8.5m), down from NOK300.3m (€31m) in the same period last year, but ahead of the average forecast of NOK76.2m (€7.9m) from five analysts compiled by Refinitiv.

The company cut its target for passenger carrying capacity to 0-5pc, compared with the previous guidance for 5-10pc.

It said earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation and restructuring or rent costs (EBITDAR), excluding "other" losses or gains for items such as foreign currency contracts and forward fuel contracts, were expected to reach NOK6-7bn in 2019, up from NOK3.2bn in 2018.


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