Norwegian: striving towards being lean

posted on 5th June 2018

Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA, commercially branded “Norwegian”, is a publicly traded low-cost airline. It is the second largest airline in Scandinavia, and has a route network that stretches across Europe into North Africa and the Middle East. The company has experienced significant growth with more than 13 million passengers recorded in 2010. Lasse Sandaker-Nielsen, spokesperson for Norwegian, explains how the airline manages its operations on the ground

Norwegian operates 59 aircraft on 261 routes to 100 destinations and employs approximately 2,500 people. Nearly 1.6 million passengers flew with the airline in July, an increase of 21% compared with July 2010. The load factor during this period was close to 90% with a strong capacity increase of 23%.

”We are very satisfied with the continued passenger growth and the record high figures in July. Even with a capacity increase of 23% we manage to report a load factor of 90%. This proves that the 18 brand new Boeing 737-800 aircraft with higher capacity delivered over the past year are paying off,” says Bjørn Kjos, Chief Executive Officer of Norwegian.

The airline operated 99.9% of its scheduled flights in July, of which 82.6% departed on time – in large part due to efficient operations on the ground. In fact, approximately 1 million passengers flew with Norwegian from the Nordics to Continental Europe in July. Strong contributors to these figures are Norwegian´s recently launched routes from Helsinki, Finland, and Gothenburg, Sweden, to Continental Europe and the Mediterranean, as these flights have been full throughout July.

As a low-cost airline, Sandaker-Nielsen says: “Norwegian strives to have a lean organisation and administration. The company outsources services such as airport handling services, whenever possible.” But the handling function is not totally outsourced: “We do, however, have internal teams that communicate and coordinate with our airport handling partners on a daily and regular basis. As far as passenger care/customer relations [are concerned], we have a large group of employees that work with these issues,” he adds.

Enlarging further on the airline’s efforts to be lean, Sandaker-Nielsen says: “We outsource whenever possible, as we believe this is the only way to have a smooth, lean and financially efficient organisation. In Norway, our primary partner is Røros Flyservice; in Sweden, it’s Nordic Aero; and at London Gatwick, we use Servisair.”

When it comes to passenger check-in, Sandaker-Nielsen says: “We encourage all of our passengers to use our check-in kiosks located at most airports in Scandinavia. This makes for a more efficient check-in both for the passenger and our staff.”

He continues: “We believe that the passengers should be able to enjoy a smooth travel experience when flying with us, and facilitating ‘self-help’ technology whenever possible is crucial to that success. We’ve been offering mobile phone boarding passes for quite some time and it is a big success, particularly among business travellers.”

So what about baggage check-in? He responds: “We have baggage drop areas where our customers can drop off their luggage after checking in at the kiosks. We have recently introduced self-service baggage check-in kiosks at Bergen Airport. As many as half of our passengers use this new service, which will be gradually introduced at all our primary airports.”

When asked about how Norwegian chooses its suppliers, Sandaker-Nielsen responds quite simply: “Flexibility and quality.” But what about third-party catering, refuelling and cabin cleaning? Does N orwegian seek to buy bundled services or is the airline looking for specialists in each area? Sandaker-Nielsen concludes quite simply: “Bundling is more time and economically efficient.”