The chief executive officer of Norwegian Air Shuttle, Bjørn Kjos, who also co-founded the company, announced on Thursday July 11th that he was retiring with immediate effect after 17 years in charge of the airline.
Bjoern Kjos, 72, has been CEO since the company started and turned the small domestic carrier into a global low-cost airline. During a statement he gave at a news conference, he said he was "way over on overtime" to explain his departure.
Norwegian Air broke into the transatlantic market with low fares and still prides itself on providing worldwide long-haul flights as a low-cost airline from airports in London, Manchester and Edinburgh.
"People ask me 'isn't Norwegian your baby?' It is not my baby, it is the baby of 11,000 people," Kjos told reporters at the news conference. He was referring to Norwegian's employees. The company, which started with 130 employees and four planes, now has 162 aircraft, according to AP.
However, the Oslo-based company has struggled to make profits recently. In its reported quarterly results on Thursday, numbers showed reduced growth, while the grounding of 18 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft "has affected demand, operating expenses and production negatively."
Norwegian has 18 of the aircraft, which all had to stay grounded after two deadly crashes in March and are not expected to return to service until October, the company said on Thursday. This is a revision from its previous estimate of August.
The group said the negative impact on full-year results is expected to be approximately 700 million kroner ($81 million).
Geir Karlsen, Norwegian's chief financial officer, is expected to replace Kjos, who will also stay on as an advisor in the interim until a successor is appointed. The process of finding its next CEO has already begun, the company said. On the Norwegian Air homepage, Kjos remains listed in the top management.