Gone is its once lucrative long-haul business, and much of its workforce, but Norwegian Air defies the odds as it puts a complex restructuring behind it. Still, Europe's uncertain travel situation this summer could be the next big headache for the carrier.
Norwegian Air is set to exit its restructuring process next week after raising the 6 billion Norwegian crowns ($714 million) it targeted through the sale of perpetual bonds, new shares and a rights issue, the company said on Friday.
Financed largely by debt, Norwegian Air grew rapidly, serving routes across Europe and flying to North and South America, Southeast Asia and the Middle East before the COVID-19 pandemic plunged the budget airline into crisis.
Courts in Ireland and Norway had demanded the airline raise at least 4.5 billion crowns as part of a scheme to emerge from bankruptcy protection in the two countries on May 26.
The private placement of new shares raised 3.73 billion crowns and was “significantly oversubscribed,” the firm said in a statement.
The perpetual bond sale added 1.88 billion crowns from current creditors, while the rights issue to existing shareholders was oversubscribed and the final results are to be settled on May 25, the company said.
The courts in Oslo and Dublin last month gave their approval for Norwegian to sharply cut its debt by converting it to stock so long as it raised the 4.5 billion crowns.
With the pandemic still curbing travel, the company then decided to try and raise an additional 1.5 billion crowns to bolster resources as it exits the restructuring process it began last December.
The survival plan brings an end to Norwegian’s long-haul business, leaving a slimmed-down carrier focusing on Nordic and European routes.
But Europe’s airline industry faces a second summer holiday travel season hampered by travel restrictions and uncertainty.
Travel companies including EasyJet, TUI Cruises and IAG have sold bonds to boost their balance sheets or refinance debt.
Ryanair, Europe’s largest low-cost airline, raised 1.2 billion euros in a five-year bond sale on Tuesday.
DNB, ABG Sundal Collier, and Seabury Securities LTD advised Norwegian Air on the capital raise.
($1 = 8.4025 Norwegian crowns)
(Reporting by Victoria Klesty, editing by Louise Heavens, Kirsten Donovan)
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Photo credit: Norwegian Air (whose jet is pictured here above LAX) is set to emerge from bankruptcy this week. Glenn Beltz / Flickr