Norwegian Air Shuttle has entered into an agreement to acquire Widerøe, a Norwegian airline with an extensive domestic and regional network.
On July 6, 2023, Norwegian announced it had reached a NOK 1,125 million ($105 million / €97 million approximately) all-cash deal with WF Holding AS, the parent company of Widerøe. However, the exact final amount is subject to adjustments based on Widerøe’s financial performance in 2023.
The two companies will preserve their separate brands and continue to operate their respective networks. However, going forward it is expected that the two carriers will benefit from increased coordination and flight connectivity.
Norwegian and Widerøe have two rather different business models and fleets.
Norwegian, following its withdrawal from the long-haul market, has chosen to focus on trunk routes in Scandinavia and other European markets, flying a fleet of 186/189-seat Boeing 737s and operating under a low-cost model.
Widerøe is primarily a regional domestic airline, operating different version of the De Havilland Canada Dash 8 turborprop, including the -100, -200, -300 and –400 variants, as well as three Embraer E190 E2s, for which it was the launch customer.
Although carrying only around 20% of Norway’s domestic air traffic, Widerøe plays an essential role, ensuring internal air mobility in Norway and serving many small, remote communities across the whole length of the country.
In recent years Widerøe has also been expanding internationally, particularly after the addition of Embraer E2 jets to its fleet. The airline currently operates services from Norway to several destinations in the United Kingdom, Germany and Northern Europe.
The complementary nature of both businesses is demonstrated by the fact the carriers only overlap on five routes despite both operating extensive networks in Norway.
“(…) The tax level for air travel in Norway is particularly high, and this, in combination with fierce international competition, makes it difficult for a smaller regional airline to persevere without a strong partner. We are therefore very happy to now join forces with Norwegian, and we are excited to get an industrial owner that aspires to develop both companies further. We are convinced that this solution is in the best interest of Widerøe, our employees, and not the least our customers,” Widerøe CEO, Stein Nilsen, stated in a press release announcing the deal.
Widerøe has also been active in the field of sustainable aviation, even launching a dedicated subsidiary, Widerøe Zero, to develop innovative projects in this area.
However, its flagship project, the development of an all-electric aircraft together with Rolls-Royce and Italian aircraft manufacturer Tecnam, suffered a setback in May 2023 when Tecnam suspended work on the project