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Norwegian closes the two bases on the islands and dismisses 186 workers in the Canary Islands

Norwegian Air Shuttle announced yesterday to the unions the start of a collective dismissal procedure (ERE) for 1,191 workers in Spain, which represents an 85% cut in the workforce. The Norwegian low-cost airline, which presented the creditors' pre-bankruptcy in mid-December for three of its subsidiaries in Spain, will stop operating the long haul from Barcelona and will reduce short-haul operations. It will also close three of the five bases it has in Spain, including Gran Canaria and Tenerife Sur, where it will lay off 186 workers. This was stated yesterday by the flight manager for the air sector at USO, Ernesto Iglesias.

It will only keep the Malaga and Alicante bases operational, where it will operate with a single aircraft in each of them. By next year, 2022, it will raise it to three flights per base. Six in total compared to the 16 planes it had in Spain before the covid.

Iglesias stressed yesterday that the closure of bases does not mean that Norwegian stops flying with the Canary Islands, where before the pandemic it moved two million passengers. From now on it will operate from the bases in Scandinavia. "There will continue to be flights with Norway but the frequencies will be reduced for sure," says Iglesias. It will also be operated with a Scandinavian crew. “From now on we will value Spanish workers. That will be part of our job, "he said.

According to Iglesias, the unions and workers expected an internal restructuring due to the situation that Norwegian has been going through for months and even a reduction of the workforce at the Spanish bases, but at no time did they raise an ERE for almost 85% and the closure almost all bases. "We could not imagine that the two bases in the Canary Islands that are strategic for the company would be dispensed with," adds Iglesias.

In January of this year, the airline assured that it would maintain its routes with the Canary Islands within the new strategy proposed by the company and aimed at eliminating its long-haul routes and focusing on its short routes within Europe. The airline recalled that before the pandemic, in 2019, Norwegian transported 1.77 million passengers between the Canary Islands and other points in Spain and Europe. "It represents 23% of all those who transported in Spanish territory in that period of time," said the airline that will now make these routes from the Scandinavian bases.

From the company they point out that it is a restructuring process that is being carried out in "each and every one" of the markets where it operates, which are the Nordic countries, the United Kingdom, the United States, Italy and France, as well as Spain, reports Europe Press. The company's intention, as it announced in January, is to cease long-distance operations and downsize short-haul. Specifically, during 2021 it expects to serve the short haul with about 50 aircraft, which represents less than a third of the 156 with which it closed 2019 -37 long-haul and 119 single-aisle- to increase them to 70 throughout 2022.

Within this context, Norwegian continues its growth in Denmark and Finland, countries where it has initiated pilot recruitment processes and with whom it intends to carry out Spanish flights and production. USO and the Sepla pilots' union have indicated that they will "face together" the negotiations to maintain the maximum number of jobs for crews based in Spain as well as their rights.

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