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Norwegian has initiated an examinership process in Ireland, asking a court there to oversee a restructuring of its debts in an effort to prevent collapse, the company said in a statement on November 18.

Norwegian chose an Irish process, it explained, as its aircraft assets - Norwegian Air International and wholly-owned lessor Arctic Aviation Assets - are held there. Seeking restructuring and bankruptcy protection in Ireland is “in the interest of its stakeholders,” it assured.

Norwegian Air International and Arctic Aviation Assets are to be reconstructed under Irish law. Because the parent is a related party to the two Irish companies, it will also be able to benefit from creditor protection.

“Norwegian will continue to operate its route network, and both its bonds and shares will trade as normal on the Oslo Stock Exchange,” the troubled carrier said.

The purpose of the process is to reduce debt, downsize the fleet, and secure new capital, while also protecting the assets of the group as a whole, it said and added: “The process is estimated to take up to five months.”

However, under Ireland's examinership scheme, there is a fixed period of 70 days, which can be extended to 100 days, during which an agreement must be reached with at least one group of creditors.

The company said its top priorities remain “safeguarding as many jobs as possible while rightsizing its asset base” but gave no details on which assets might be offloaded.

“Our intent is clear. We will emerge from this process as a more financially secure and competitive airline, with a new financial structure, a rightsized fleet, and improved customer offering,” said Norwegian CEO Jacob Schram.

As previously reported, last week, Norway’s government rejected the airline’s pleas for another injection of state funds. The company responded by warning that without more cash it was at risk of halting operations in early 2021.

Earlier on November 18, the lessor AerCap cut its shareholding in Norwegian from 13.4%, which it had held since September 30 as part of a rescue package, to 9%, Reuters reported. AerCap had also taken a seat on Norwegian’s board, but last week its representative resigned.

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