Norwegian To Boost Fleet, Staff Ahead Of 'Busy' Summer 2023

The LCC has already finalized 239 routes for the March-October season.

Credit: Joe Pries

LCC Norwegian is planning a robust summer 2023 schedule with 239 routes already finalized for the March to October season.

The carrier said it will expand its fleet to 85 Boeing 737s and add 750 staff for the summer 2023 season. As of November 2022, Norwegian employed 4,000 staff and operated an average of 64 aircraft, after downsizing its fleet for the winter season. This will be stepped back up to 85 aircraft next summer.

“We are well positioned to respond to seasonal variations,” Norwegian CEO Geir Karlsen said Dec. 6. 

“This [additional capacity] will allow Norwegian to offer more departures on the most popular routes,” Norwegian said in a statement.

Norwegian was founded in 1993 and reinvented itself as an LCC in 2002. Following a substantial restructuring during COVID-19, Norwegian dropped its long-haul network and the carrier now operates short-haul flights within the Nordics and to key European destinations.

In May 2022, Karlsen said Norwegian’s “sweet spot” for productivity would be a fleet of 90 to 100 aircraft. At the time, Karlsen said he planned to reach this size within two years. He added that, when Norwegian gets above 80- to 90-aircraft, the company would face a “big decision” about whether to expand outside of the Nordics. 

“We did do that back in the day. We had a pretty nice operation out of [London] Gatwick (LGW), we were flying massively within Spain and we flew from Germany to Spain and so on. I'm not saying that's what we're going to do, but I think that at 80, 90, 100 aircraft, we will have to consider doing that,” he said at the Routes Europe conference in May 2022. 

Returning to the present day, Karlsen said he was satisfied with November’s traffic–which totaled 1.4 million passengers–and the “associated top-line” performance. “While we are now in the low-season, demand for air travel continues to be persistent, particularly to our many popular beach destinations,” he said.

He noted that load factors nearly hit 90% for winter-sun destinations from Norway. The overall average load factor for the month was 79.5%.

“Looking ahead, we continue to see a pent-up demand for air travel, especially to sunny beach destinations,” Karlsen said, adding that he expects “a busy summer” in 2023.