Questions need answering on the collapse of Norwegian Air in the UK
The announcement on 14th January that Norwegian Air was stopping operations in the UK was a blow to its employees. Since then, more information has come to light which has raised questions about the company, and highlighted injustices for the employees.
On top of being made redundant employees were told on an employees’ call with the liquidators, KPMG, on Monday 1st February, that they will not even be paid their owed salary, holiday or notice pay, despite recent assurances from Norwegian. Instead they now have to claim part of their pay arrears from the UK government.
Pilots are demanding answers about why they have been left with absolutely nothing.
The incredibly complex corporate structure is very difficult to unpick. The airline continues in Norway and has received significant government bailouts there, and yet the whole company is being liquidated in the UK and its employees left high and dry.
Given that part of the Norwegian Group entered the equivalent of bankruptcy protection in Ireland in November – and the insolvency of all or part of the Group has been a distinct possibility since then – why did NAR have no proper contingency plans in place for potential liquidation?
In November last year, “NAR UK” – the UK company – promised pilots that, in the event of insolvency, everyone would as least get paid for their contractual three months’ notice. Why has Norwegian now broken its promise and refused to pay any contractual notice?
Additionally, last year, “NAR UK” – the part of the company now in liquidation – was supposed to receive around £10.5m from another part of the Norwegian Group. What happened to that money? Why was it never received by NAR UK and where has it gone? These are all questions BALPA has raised with KPMG, the liquidators of the company. We have received assurances that KPMG will investigate the corporate structure and whether any monies are owed to the UK airline. In our view, this money should be made available to help pay what is owed to pilots and other staff – including salary arrears, unpaid pension contributions, unpaid notice and in some case unpaid medical bills. [See NOTE 1]
1. See Section 6.1 in the KPMG Director’s report to the creditors
2. See letter from Terry Brandon, BALPA National Office, to the directors of the Norwegian Group enquiring about the missing £10.5m.