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Question about Norwegian's liklihood of still being in business in March

I know Norwegian airlines is having financial trouble but that they got a 'bailout' of sorts - I think I read for two years. But I know a lot of you are more 'airline business savvy' than I am. Would you book a flight BOS to London in March 2020?

Other airlines (BA, Virgin) are only about $50 more but I've flown Norwegian before and really like them and the times are best.

Posted by
6039 posts

I have no 'insider info', but for that small a difference it might be cheaper to take BA or Virgin, than the cost of the amount of Tums I would need between now and March

Posted by
6387 posts

If it is only Boston to London and you like Norwegian I'd go for it. Life goes on.

I flew Wow Airlines 3 months before it went under despite all the doomsday talk

Posted by
78 posts

I'd pay the $50 and book BA or Virgin if I were you. My Norwegian experience this past summer was a London Gatwick to NYC JFK flight, delayed 12 hours and we flew over on a wet-leased HiFly Airbus A380 double-decker.

Posted by
6537 posts

Norwegian Air Shuttle's corporate bondholders have extended the terms on some of their debt. It was extend the terms or force them into bankruptcy.
But who knows what the future holds for them.
I've flown Norwegian for a number of years, and they are working hard to make changes in operations to where they'll be profitable in flights to North America. We need competition badly to keep airfares down.

Posted by
561 posts

With these types of choices I always ask myself : "How much would I pay to get out of this mess in which I find myself?" Thus, I always have relatively new snow tires.... Do you fell lucky? Of course, selfishly if you and everyone else avoids Norwegian they will fold... but your vacation will not be affected.

Posted by
1840 posts

While I think I come across as gloomiest doomiest on the forum with respect to discount trans-Atlantic carriers, I consider myself a realist.

The bad for Norwegian: Cash flow for the first half of 2019 was terrible; as of the end of Q2, the airline had already burned through all the cash from its January cash infusion and then some. Executives have also burned the reserve assets identified on the Q2 earnings conference call during Q3 to keep the airline afloat -- the last being the value of the airlines' Gatwick landing/take-off slots that were used to postpone an end-of-year debt payment.

The good for Norwegian: There was a huge amount of money sitting in accounts receivable at the end of Q2 due to credit card company withholds -- instead of making money from a consumer's purchase immediately available to the company, the credit card companies keep the money until the flight is completed. There should be a lot of money hitting the Q3 balance sheet from all those summer vacationers completing their flights.

I think Norwegian has a decent chance of being around in March, but Q3 results are released Oct 24. Your question can be better answered then.

Posted by
3904 posts

For $50 I'd fly Virgin, my second choice would be BA. Neither are at risk of going under (IAG which owns BA posted profits in the billions last year) whilst Norwegians situation appears perilous. Virgin also has a better product in my opinion.

Posted by
1043 posts

Not without good travel insurance. They did get an extension to some loans, which solved the immediate problems. But there is still the problem of trying to become profitable. And they have been axing routes trying to do that. So there is not only the question if they still are in business in March, what do you do if they cancel the route in February?

Posted by
854 posts

How long of a trip is it? Do you really have one to three extra days to spare trying to score another flight should the company go out of business, say, the day before you were scheduled to go? Especially for $50, there is no way I would go with a questionable airline as compared to an established mainstream offering. There’s being frugal, and then there’s gambling, in my humble opinion flying Norwegian is number two.

Posted by
1485 posts

Someone above suggested travel insurance. Please note that travel insurance may not cover the bankruptcy at this airline. Generally if an airline has announced they are in financial distress the insurance companies will not cover it. Please check with your carrier before you buy insurance assuming it will cover a failure by Norwegian

Posted by
703 posts

So here you are ready to gamble your vacation for a lousy 50 bucks. You do realize, of course, that if Norwegian goes belly up at the last minute before your vacation the price differential at BA and Virgin will be a whole lot more $50. On non-orphan flights, the most expensive seats are the one bought at the last minute, they have computer programs for that.

Posted by
105 posts

I have a Norwegian flight booked for January 15; Ft Lauderdale-Oslo-Thailand. I’m not worried. I think they have at least another year and if the Boeing Max problem is resolved perhaps longer. I hope Norwegian survives, it’s my favorite airline for USA-Europe.

But for a March flight you might want to wait a month. The last two years Norwegian has had Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales on winter and spring flights that averaged about $25-50 off most flights.

Posted by
633 posts

Thanks for the replies. I have to say I'm not just trying to save $50. I really do like Norwegian (and especially the dreamliner planes) and I would like to use them, and also to see them stay in business. But I also don't want to screw up my vacation so I guess I'll go with Virgin or BA. I was hoping someone would say that based on the 'bailout' there was a really good chance that there would be no flight changes/risk of going out of business this March. Nothing is ever definite, but I don't want to take unnecessary chances.

Posted by
1043 posts

But I also don't want to screw up my vacation so I guess I'll go with
Virgin or BA.

That is probably the wise choice.

I was hoping someone would say that based on the 'bailout' there was a
really good chance that there would be no flight changes/risk of going
out of business this March.

Sorry, but I don't think that is the case. They still have to become profitable, and in trying to achieve that they are cutting routes. So even if they survive until March, there is a risk that your flight will be canceled for other reasons. And demand for air travel is highly seasonal in Europe, so airlines need to make enough money in the summer to be able to survive the winter. If they don't, they usually go bankrupt.

Posted by
633 posts

Tom - thanks for that link. Interesting article. I think I'd rather fly Norwegian than BA. Seems like BOS to London would be a pretty safe route. Still trying to decide but do appreciate the additional information.

Posted by
1840 posts

Third quarter results are in, and Reteurs reports Norwegian beat earnings estimates by a hair. Reuters also reports that Norwegian announced that it is entering into a joint venture with a Chinese company that will reduce future capital expenditure on Airbus planes to be delivered 2020-2023. I've found that Reuters tends to print whatever the Norwegian press release says without much critical evaluation, but both of these would be good for the airline.

I scanned the actual Norwegian Q3 report. Cash on hand is still below what it was Q3 last year (though better than Q2 number) -- so they still have blown through their entire cash infusion from Q1 without making up ground (despite selling off all its shares in a Norwegian bank and selling 2 airplanes). Receivables are still almost double what they were last year, which would suggest that the credit card companies aren't letting up on holdbacks (not surprising given the number of discount airlines that have gone belly-up recently). Despite moving their debt payment down the road, it looks like liquidity still could potentially be an issue for Norwegian as the company enters the lean Q4/Q1 months. I'm interested to see what was said on the earnings conference call, but haven't had a chance to listen yet.

Moral of the story: Things certainly look less bleak than Q3 last year, but still no guarantee they will be around in March.

Reuters article on earnings: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-norwegian-air-results/norwegian-air-third-quarter-profit-beats-forecast-idUSKBN1X30EH

Reuters article on Airbus fleet deal: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-norwegianair-leasing/norwegian-air-secures-airbus-fleet-deal-earnings-top-forecast-idUSKBN1X30CX

Norwegian's Third Quarter Report: https://www.norwegian.com/globalassets/documents/quarterly-results/norwegian-q3-2019-report.pdf

Posted by
2655 posts

Norwegian opened sales for a new route scheduled to start next May--CDG to Austin

I can’t fathom this business decision, but I’m not in the under 30 demographic that is excited by Austin.

Posted by
7109 posts

I am waiting now to board a Norwegian flight from Paris (CDG) to Oakland, Ca. This will be my 4th flight on NA. Many friends have flown NA many, many times. A friend of mine just bought a r/t ticket on NA for next May. Their prices, and the Dreamliner plane are amazing. BUT, their customer service is horrible, non-existent.
Last year returning from Paris, and this flight, i booked an aisle seat. Both last year and today i find out at check-in that they have assigned me a middle seat. I booked this flight 7 mos ago. There is no one in the airport to talk to. The people that check your bags in are hired by NA and can do nothing re: customer service.
I am furious and doubt if i will ever fly NA again.

Posted by
720 posts

I can’t fathom this business decision, but I’m not in the under 30 demographic that is excited by Austin.

I don't claim to understand what's behind this decision either, but KLM also recently announced a new route starting next May, AMS-Austin.

Posted by
3904 posts

I like Austin, I was in my late 30's when I went a few years ago. I liked the vibe and the nightlife was excellent, particularly if you're into live music. The food scene was good but there's not a great deal more to the city. I visited as part of a wider Texan road trip and only spent a couple of nights there.

I can understand why there are more routes being operated by European airlines, it was certainly my favourite part of Texas that I visited although I didn't get to see San Antonio, which I would have liked nor did I get to visit Big Bend National Park (my primary reason for travelling to the US is the national parks), Texas is just too BIG!

Posted by
6073 posts

I understand why Austin is a draw, even for international tourists. I don't think it's age specific although the city really trends "young" due to 50k university students nearby. Austin has an excellent marketing campaign, great food, mild annual weather (except for summer) and it revolves around world-class festivals that draw thousands of people (City Limits, SXSW, etc.). Plus the Hill Country is culturally unique and beautiful, and proximity to San Antonio is great. You can get around the city itself without a car and the city center is very close to the airport, which is also a major plus.

As far as Norwegian goes, if you believe in the airline and like its product, then be bullish and buy a ticket for March. Too much timidity from too many will make (downfall of the airline) a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Posted by
1840 posts

Susan—

Sorry to hear about your experience. I would be very unhappy, too, if I booked an aisle seat 7 months ago and ended up with a middle seat from Paris to Oakland.

Posted by
633 posts

Susan - a year ago I was checking in for a flight, reserved many months in advance, and my window seat near the front of the plane had been change to a middle seat. Upon checking in I complained (I had paid for the seat) and they changed it again - to a window seat but near the back of the plane, and told me to request a refund of the $45 seat fee. I did, and three months later I got it. So while not ideal, I would say they customer service - at least in that case - was at least average.

Posted by
1840 posts

I got to read the report more closely and watch the online presentation of results. A few notes:

  • I was wrong on the sale of stock in a Norwegian bank. A little over half of the stock was sold in Q3. The rest will be sold for an already-determined price in Q4, which will provide additional cash for operations in Q4.
  • There is an interesting table that shows how important the US has become to Norwegian. Revenue from US passengers exceeds revenue from Norway passengers now (flipped in Q2, I believe). Revenue growth of 21% in US year-over-year for Q3. Four percent growth in Norway.
  • While Norwegian is expanding capacity in the US for summer 2020, it expects to reduce system-wide capacity by 10 percent in 2020.
  • During the on-line presentation, it was noted that the Thomas Cook bankruptcy did not help credit card withholds. Norwegian is trying to bring on new "credit card acquirers," companies that will process credit cards payments and make funds available to Norwegian more quickly.
  • Norwegian is launching Program Next, an aggressive program to "transform" the company into a different Norwegian over the next 2-3 years through transforming its network, seeking revenue improvement, and continuing cost containment/reduction. More details in February when the FY 2019 results are presented!

For those with an interest (Eric?), the video presentation can be found here: https://www.norwegian.com/us/about/company/investor-relations/reports-and-presentations/

Posted by
7109 posts

isabel, there was no one to complain to, last year or yesterday.

Could not check-in ahead of getting to airport - msg on NA website said something to the effect of “Pre-Check in disabled.”

I had on my phone the confirmation from booking my flight which showed an aisle seat - but it was useless as there was no NA agent at the airport.

I had to wait until i got on the plane yesterday, and last year, to talk to a flight attendant. Plane was packed full, i had to wait until everyone was in their seats, and by some miracle they found me the only aisle seat available. I still don’t understand how it happened but i was very grateful.

I have to say, 3 of the flight attendants (and several last year), were beyond wonderful. Incredibly kind and wonderful.

I also only got one of the 2 meals i paid for. They did not have me on their list that i had paid for food. One of the FAs gave me the hot meal anyway - although i’m vegetarian and all she had was chicken/beef. But i did not get the 2nd meal. I didn’t care - i brought nuts and nutrition bars with me - but it was the principle.

The flight attendants made all the difference for me, but the airline itself is to blame and there is nothing i could do then, or now, about it. You can spend 4+ hrs calling and talking to their call center - all to no avail.

All this said though, the actual experience of being on a Dreamliner (in coach) cannot be matched by any other plane in my experience - and NA is the only airline that you can be guaranteed of a Dreamliner (yes, i understand they sometimes have to use a different plane).

As i sat there, very comfortable in coach, i thought it is still worth it to fly NA despite the problems i’ve had getting the seat i paid for. Because the cabin is pressurized at a lower level than other planes, because they pump in more fresh air than other planes, because they use natural lighting, because coach seats are so comfortable and have more leg-room than other planes i’ve been on (in coach) all add up to feeling physically better during a flight, and after a flight - less jetlag for one thing. And that is huge for me.

I hope they do stay in business, but man, their customer service is absolutely awful.

Posted by
181 posts

THe issue might be more where do they fly to/from than whether they'll be around. Like a few posters have noted they just announced new service to Austin Texas, but in the past year or so they have dropped a lot of service as well, including all service to/from Providence RI and Newburgh NY. So who really knows.

Posted by
633 posts

Looks like BA also uses the dreamliner (787). Anyone flown with them recently and can comment? Especially the Boston to LHR route. Thanks

Posted by
5449 posts

Norwegian is trying to bring on new "credit card acquirers," companies that will process credit cards payments and make funds available to Norwegian more quickly.

Cash flow improved at a price. It's called "factoring": https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Factoring_(finance)

Factoring is a financial transaction and a type of debtor finance in
which a business sells its accounts receivable (i.e., invoices) to a
third party (called a factor) at a discount. A business will
sometimes factor its receivable assets to meet its present and
immediate cash needs
.

Posted by
181 posts

Isabel - flew the BA 787 last month from PIT to LHR and back. NO complaints. We had Premium Economy which had extra pitch and seat width.

Posted by
7109 posts

Problem with any other airline, you can’t be guaranteed of flying on a Dreamliner.
If i could, i would. And why i stay with NA despite horrible customer service.

Posted by
1043 posts

Problem with any other airline, you can’t be guaranteed of flying on a
Dreamliner. If i could, i would. And why i stay with NA despite
horrible customer service.

You can never be guaranteed a certain kind of aircraft, Norwegian has had troubles with their 787s and sometimes lease other aircraft for a while. And flag carriers generally have more spare capacity to use in case of an aircraft needing repairs.

However, if the higher pressure is the reason you like the 787, you could also look at flights operated by A380 or A350.

Posted by
7109 posts

Badger, thank you for the A380 or A350.suggestion. Dreamliner flies at a much lower cabin pressure (see my post upthread) which is very important to me.
I also said up thread, yes NA can switch planes - nothing guaranteed - but my chances are far greater to fly a Dreamliner on NA. I looked into other airlines for my trip this Sept-Oct and while most, if not all, had Dreamliners, they all had far less than NA and no way to know if i’d get that plane so i stayed with NA.

I’ll look into the A380 and A350 because if i can be guaranteed of lower cabin pressure on an airline that actually has customer service i will gladly do that - even at a higher price.

Posted by
3904 posts

I've never flown in a Dreamliner before so I'm interested to know how the difference in air pressure affects me as I always feel drowsy flying, I line up a load of films, magazines and playlists but when it comes to being on board I can't be bothered with any of it so I'm excited to find out that my flight to Kuala Lumpur in December is on a Dreamliner 787-9, looking forward to seeing what difference it makes!

Posted by
7109 posts

JC, i’d really like to know your impressions of the Dreamliner when you get back. I, and others i’ve talked to, feel physically better during the flight and after the flight. Jet lag is drastically reduced or eliminated altogether.
More head room, more leg room even in the cheapest seat, bigger overhead storage.

Posted by
2298 posts

I don't know about air pressure, but we flew Virgin's A350 coming back from London and our premium economy seats were as roomy as if they'd been bulkhead-my husband could walk past me to go to the bathroom without me getting up. I loved that plane! We are fans of Virgin's Premium Economy even when it's not on that plane. BA is on my list of budget airlines that I would not to fly if I had my druthers, but my husband insists we fly them from London to other European destinations because he can get free tickets with credit card miles.

Posted by
720 posts

I've flown in the A350 (Lufthansa), and the one quantifiable difference I noticed related to cabin pressure was increased humidity. I have eye issues, and I always get dry eyes on flights which require extra drops. Not so on the A350. I was also more rested at the end of the flight, but that might have more to do with being in business :-), so hard to compare fairly to another flight in economy.

BTW, seats and bins and such aren't aircraft-type dependent, they are airline dependent.

Posted by
7109 posts

I just researched A350 and the A380 compared to the Dreamliner, thanks to Badger’s suggestion. The Dreamliner and the A350’s cabin pressure is the same at 6000 ft, both have more fresh air, higher humidity, natural lighting.

The A380 is higher, at 7000 ft, which according to websites i read does not give the same results as the Dreamliner and A350.

So thank you Badger, now i know i could fly either a Dreamliner or the A350.

Eric, i’d say that’s why you felt better. Of course Business Class helps too!
You wrote “seats and bins and such aren't aircraft-type dependent, they are airline dependent.” Not according to the websites (many) i read.

Posted by
720 posts

Susan, yes, the individual airlines choose the interiors of their own planes, including seats and the spacing of those seats. Here's one quick example of the B787-9.

First, Japan Airlines, 2-4-2 in economy, 18.9" seat width with 33" pitch...

https://www.seatguru.com/airlines/Japan_Airlines/Japan_Airlines_787-900.php

Next, United's, 3-3-3 in economy, 17.3" seat width, 32" pitch...

https://www.seatguru.com/airlines/United_Airlines/United_Airlines_Boeing_787-900.php

And Norwegian's, 3-3-3, 17.2" wide, 31-32" pitch...

https://www.seatguru.com/airlines/Japan_Airlines/Japan_Airlines_Boeing_787-8-V3.php

Many larger airlines even have different seats and seating arrangements within the same type. For instance, the Japan Airlines link above is one of 3 layouts they have for the B787-9.

Posted by
7109 posts

Eric, thank you for your good info, it helps me try to figure things out for next time. I did know in general what you’re saying, but when i read many websites (i just Googled A350 compared to Dreamliner) they all were consistent saying “the A350 seat width is 18” vs Dreamliner is 17” and so on.
It’s a bit overwhelming for the average person to compare each airline’s specific interior, then add in their different classes of seats... : /
The bottom line for me though, is that the cabin pressure is lowest on an A350 and a Dreamliner and it makes a huge difference in how i feel during and after a flight.

Posted by
7109 posts

Here’s another question... How do you know when researching flights, what airplane it will be?
I know i can call each airline to ask about a specific flight, but when researching many airlines and many flights, is there a quick and easier way to know what plane it will be?

Posted by
720 posts

Here’s another question... How do you know when researching flights, what airplane it will be?

Though imperfect (as the airline can always change what type of plane is on a specific flight, right up to departure) doing a dummy booking will generally provide this information. After you choose a flight, there is usually a link for that flight that says something like "Seats" or "Flight Information" and you'll be given the currently scheduled aircraft. You can also generally find a link on most airlines' websites that says "Flight schedule", which will also provide this. Many airlines used to post PDF's of their schedules over, say, the next 2 weeks, that were packed full of information, but, sadly, most don't anymore. Sites such as Seatguru do purport to offer this information, but their info is notoriously wrong, or they give you so many options it's worthless.

Posted by
1 posts

I've read all the articles I can get my hands on about this. Would love some current wisdom on whether Norwegian is a safe bet for summer 2020.

I need to book four flights home from Europe and cannot make it work with miles. Norwegian is half the price of everyone else... and I did check w Allianz and CSR, they don't cover you if Norwegian goes bust.

Really appreciate any new insights!

Posted by
1043 posts

I've read all the articles I can get my hands on about this. Would
love some current wisdom on whether Norwegian is a safe bet for summer
2020.

Maybe, maybe not. Personally I would not book a flight with them for the summer. Not only because of their finances, but also because they are cutting routes and you might find your flight cancelled.

Posted by
1043 posts

Dreamliner flies at a much lower cabin pressure (see my post upthread)
which is very important to me.

No, the 787 has a higher cabin pressure. I.e., it is pressurized to a lower altitude.

Posted by
7109 posts

Thanks Badger! Makes sense. Whatever it is, it makes me feel physically better.

Posted by
1840 posts

Would love some current wisdom on whether Norwegian is a safe bet for
summer 2020.

February 13 wisdom will be better than current wisdom. Norwegian announces its 2019 4th Quarter results that day.

Posted by
1840 posts

Q4 results are in. Norwegian appears to be in a better place Feb 2020 than it was Feb 2019 (when it almost ceased operations before being saved by an investment from one of Norway's richest citizens). It certainly is not financially healthy, but without any major hiccups for the airline industry, it appears to be in decent shape to exist through the summer. It's existence, however, will be threatened by any unforeseen events that impact the aviation industry (e.g., coronavirus becoming a big deal that affects travel outside of China or a big spike in oil prices) much, much more quickly than other airlines.

Posted by
189 posts

Thank you, Dave. I saw your earlier post and looked for Norwegian's Q4 report this morning but couldn't find it on the internet. Appreciate that you're on it and reporting back to this forum. We are three families of six adults and three teenagers flying SFO to Barcelona on June 3rd so we're much relieved to hear the news you posted. Happy and smooth travels to all.

Posted by
189 posts

Thanks for the link, Dave. I read the presentation notes and from what I can tell, Norwegian will be making further cuts to their less profitable flights but it looks like destinations like Barcelona, London, Paris, etc from airports like SFO and JFK are safe at least for now. Thanks for posting.

Posted by
1840 posts

Adrienne,

I think the summer "long-haul" schedule (flights lasting longer than 6 hours) is pretty much set in stone for summer, especially for the US. I don't think you'll see much in the way of changes (again, barring some catastrophic event that affects the airline industry in general). Norwegian needs to evaluate the impact of the new long-haul structure with consolidated origination/destination cities at the busy time of year.

Norwegian has guided that capacity for 2020 will be down 13-15% systemwide, but it has previously guided (Q3 presentation) that US capacity will hold steady for 2020.

Posted by
189 posts

Dave, thank you for the analysis and good news regarding Norwegian's stability for 2020. Your advice is much appreciated.

Posted by
1043 posts

I don't think you'll see much in the way of changes (again, barring
some catastrophic event that affects the airline industry in general).

Unfortunately for Norwegian it seems like we might be starting to see a catastrophic event that affects the airline industry in general. Their share price has dropped a lot recently and is down by about 50% in the last week https://www.oslobors.no/markedsaktivitet/#/details/NAS.OSE/overview

Posted by
1840 posts

Yup... this is starting to look like a catastrophic event for travel in general. But Norwegian is keeping it's chin up! From a 27 Feb Reuters piece:

“As of today, the company maintains the guidance and outlook presented
in relation to the Q4 reporting on 13 February ... The company is
monitoring the market situation on a regular basis,” Norwegian said in
a statement on Thursday."

The guidance is for a net profit in 2020.

It's hard to see how Norwegian has the cash reserve or the assets to sale to remain financially solvent with any kind of prolonged coronavirus travel contraction.

Posted by
1043 posts

On the other hand, the 737 Max groundings have actually worked a bit in Norwegian's favour. It has increased demand for older 737s, so Norwegian could sell a few planes if they are getting short on cash.

Posted by
1840 posts

They sold 10 aircraft in the fourth quarter (combo of A320s and 737s) — five completed in 4th quarter, five to be completed 1st quarter. If airlines keep cutting capacity... no one is going to need planes?

They did close their Rome base last year... I guess that works in their favor.

Posted by
1043 posts

True, it seems like demand for short haul planes are falling as well. At first it was mostly long haul planes, but now it seems like many airlines are reducing and suspending shorter routes.

Posted by
1 posts

My daughter and I bought tickets on Norwegian Air to Paris for the French Open the first part of June. Because of the virus, the Open has been postponed until end of Sept/first of Oct. I've been trying to cancel the flights, but their website says you can apply for reimbursement. Does anyone have any experience with Norwegian's refund policy? Will they reimburse the full amount?

And/ Or, should I try to reschedule the flight for October when our French Open tickets are\ or will they be out of business by then??

Posted by
6387 posts

If you bought one those cheap non-refundable tickets than you probably won't get money back if you decide to cancel. If they cancel then yes you would get money back Supposedly the Norwegian is asking the government for help like many others during this crisis.