LONDON – On the heels of the Italian union update on NAR Italy, Airways has received a document from the French union describing the NAR France bankruptcy.
The document states that since March 2020, Norwegian Air Resources (DY/NAR) set in motion its ‘Activité Partielle’, or AP, which is a technical unemployment scheme under a public funding accreditation. The AP runs until March 2021.
Norwegian Government Aid and Subsequent Restructuring
On January 22 of this year, the airline group received €300m (US$360.87m) in public funding from the Norwegian government. Now, according to the French union document, the Group is working on a massive restructuring process; the ‘New Norwegian’ refocused on the short to medium-haul market from Norway and to a lesser extent from that of the Scandic area.
In order to save time and complete the restructuring work, management decides to initiate two protection procedure:
- A bankruptcy safeguard procedure in Norway for NAS (Norwegian Air Shuttle), the main instrument of the very complex structure developed by management.
- A so-called “Examinership” procedure in Ireland, for other companies linked to the Group’s activity.
The document further states that this created a climate of heavy stress in December, “in the face of the general uncertainty and silence of our leaders.” At the beginning of January, the decision was made to severe the long-haul sector. The liquidation of NAR Ireland, which manages both the French and Italian bases, was soon added to the Examinership procedure.
In accordance with French regulations, a liquidation procedure or any operational decision for an employer under French law such as NAR France must lead to the consultation and information of the company’s CSE (Social committee – Employees elected representatives).
The SNPL challenged the amount of their AP Allowance from the beginning of the AP agreement. Faced with repeated but denied requests to management to correct the amount allocated and to pay employees the arrears, the SNPL referred the matter to the relevant short-circuit court.
On December 11, 2020, the judge rendered his judgment in favor of the SNLP. The ordinance is therefore enforceable, “whether management appeals or not.” According to the union, to date, the NAR France management has not honored the provisions of the ordinance.
The union further explains that it took “eight days, and at the request of the CSE, to obtain an additional extraordinary meeting for the regular consultation on the liquidation procedure in Ireland.” In order to represent them properly, the CSE hired two lawyers.
An Attempt to Stall the Liquidation Procedure
Their lawyer filed for an extraordinary procedure in order to stall the liquidation procedure in Ireland, on the grounds of breach of the CSE’s consultation and information obligations.
The judge in charge who is the same as the one who dealt with the SNPL referral on the AP allowance, granted a hearing date on February 18, the day after tomorrow.
The liquidators, all of KPMG, explain the situation as such:
- On February 8, proceedings were initiated in the Irish courts. The liquidators are already in charge of the Examinership file.
- The liquidators have replaced management.
- The hearing date is scheduled for March 1 to decide on the validity of the liquidation. The liquidators actually confirmed that the decisions will be made in view of the company’s situation, not its assets or debts.
- In Irish law, the concept of “Limited Liabilities” is engraved in stone and prevents any connection with Norway.
- Priority is not given to employees.
Statement from the Norwegian Air’s French Union
Yann Crosson, DS SNPL DY Paris, said that they understood that they will no longer be paid and that Oslo’s open intention is “to escape all of its social obligations toward them and allow national solidarity to replace to take over.”
Their lawyers will file another procedure in the coming days, on the grounds of a “brutal breakdown of commercial relations” between Oslo and its NAR France branch.
Crosson also said, “We note bitterly that once again, a company under foreign flag uses all possible schemes to violate French social law (Italian and more), and considers its employees, yesterday called “Red-Nose Warriors”, as an inconvenient commodity.”
Alas, Crasson warns that 286 employees will lose their jobs and suffer non-payment of their severance pay. As a result, they will have to rely on public funds.
Featured image: Norwegian Air Boeing 787. Photo: Luca Flores/Airways