OSLO, NORWAY — Norwegian, the budget airline, is contemplating moving its flight operations from Copenhagen Kastrup Airport to a neighboring alternative as staff shortages persist, leading to delays at the Danish airport.

A standoff between air traffic controllers, represented by their union, and Naviair, their employer and a state-owned air traffic service, has worsened an already existing shortage of air traffic controllers. This situation has caused delays for hundreds of thousands of passengers in the past weeks.

The low-cost carrier has reportedly expressed its dissatisfaction with the situation to the Danish government and has also held discussions about the matter with SAS Scandinavian Airlines, a Nordic competitor, as per news agency Ritzau.

“We have to look at alternative airports that are close to Copenhagen Airport,” Geir Karlsen, CEO of Norwegian, told the news agency. “I’m uncertain if this will be feasible on such short notice, but this conflict is increasingly concerning, and this concern will escalate as capacity grows during the summer.”

As per the ch-aviation capacities module, Norwegian Air Sweden AOC and Norwegian Air Shuttle AOC currently hold around 17% of the total 357,630 weekly seats available at Kastrup through over 330 weekly flights. It is second only to SAS, which operates 830 flights with a total of 119,268 seats per week, accounting for 33.35% of total capacity.

During the pandemic, Naviair laid off 46 air traffic controllers voluntarily. Although it recently stated that it has increased the number of trainees, until they are fully trained, it wants existing staff to take on additional shifts. Employees have objected that the overtime demand is not manageable and have noted that they have already assumed 1,500 extra shifts this year.

The Confederation of Danish Industry has called on the transport minister to intervene to avert a “nightmare summer” scenario, but politicians have been hesitant to get involved.

In a statement on May 12, Norwegian anticipated one of its strongest peak seasons ever. However, Karlsen expressed concern to Reuters during an earnings presentation: “We are concerned that there won’t be enough staff over the summer. We are following it very closely. Copenhagen is very, very important to us.” He also mentioned that the airline is exploring alternatives for its customers, including relocating flights to nearby Malmö in southern Sweden.