canary islands

Norwegian might recover its bases in the Canary Islands

The company's CEO, Geir Karlsen says that Norwegian Airlines is considering reopening bases in the Canary Islands.

Norwegian Airlines, whose survival was threatened after the outbreak of the pandemic, is considering reopening bases in the Canary Islands and making the one in Barcelona, which is operating again this year but only during the summer season, operate all year round.

This explains in an interview with EFE the company’s CEO, Geir Karlsen, who this week visited the airline’s corporate offices in Cornellà de Llobregat (Barcelona). After reaching an extreme situation due to its financial problems and the covid-19 crisis, Norwegian continues to recover muscle and will use 77 aircraft for its operations this summer.

In the case of Spain, Karlsen indicates that “the market is doing very well”: “It is a very important market for us, especially the beach destinations”, he adds.


On 1 May Norwegian will reopen its base in Barcelona, closed as a result of the coronavirus crisis, which will operate during the summer season: it will have two planes and to this end has incorporated some 70 workers.

The El Prat base will be added to the permanent bases that the airline has maintained in Alicante and Malaga, with three aircraft each, and Karlsen points out the company’s desire to make the Barcelona base operate all year round in the near future – initially, probably, with just one aircraft for the winter season.

The El Prat base will be short-haul, as the airline no longer offers intercontinental routes: it previously operated six routes connecting Spain with the United States, five of them in Barcelona and one in Madrid.

Before covid-19, Norwegian also had permanent bases in Tenerife South and Gran Canaria, and before that it had two more in Palma de Mallorca and Madrid, so recovering the bases in the Canary Islands could be another of the steps that the company will take in the medium term, admits the company’s CEO.


In Spain, Norwegian employs around 700 people: 130 in its Barcelona offices – which provide service to all operations together with those of Oslo (Norway) and Riga (Latvia) -, some 210 dedicated to ‘handling’ work – operations at airports – and 350 crew members – a third of them pilots.

For this summer, Norwegian has scheduled 49 routes between Spain and the Nordic countries (Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland), rising to 62 throughout 2023, and offers 4 million seats for the whole year.

On 20 April the airline celebrated 20 years in Spain, a period during which it has carried 50 million passengers, 3.14 million of them in 2022. For the moment it does not plan to offer internal connections in Spain or to other European countries, but Karlsen does not close the door completely: “It is possible that we will see it in the future”.


Norwegian was once Europe’s third largest low-cost airline, but an accumulation of crises brought the company to the brink of bankruptcy: the pandemic hit when it was already in a difficult financial situation, coupled with a temporary flight ban on Boeing 737s and problems with Rolls Royce engines.

These major setbacks caused the airline to stop flying intercontinental flights and to slim down to the point of closing its bases outside the Nordic countries, with the exception of Spain, where it kept Alicante and Malaga. In Spain, however, where it once had a workforce of 1,285, it carried out a redundancy programme affecting 975 employees.

On the other hand, Karlsen highlights how the habits of its customers are changing: tickets for weekend trips leave more and more room for longer periods of time, possibly due to the rise of teleworking. In addition, there is more and more interest in flying all year round and not only in summer.

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