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Norwegian celebrates 20th anniversary and more than 300 million passengers 

Press release -

Norwegian celebrates 20th anniversary and more than 300 million passengers 

Today Norwegian celebrates 20 years since the airline’s very first flight. More than 300 million passengers have travelled with Norwegian since 2002.

On September 1st, at 14.00 CET in 2002, the very first Boeing 737 flight with Norwegian from Oslo to Bergen took off, marking the birth of the new airline. During the past 20 years, Norwegian has welcomed more than 300 million passengers on board. On the Oslo-Bergen route alone, the airline has carried 15 million passengers.

Norwegian is Norway’s largest airline with 4,000 employees, and with the Nordics as Norwegian’s main market, the airline today offers a large route network across Europe. In 2002, Norwegian operated four domestic routes in Norway, and by the summer season of 2022 the company operated 280 routes and 108 destinations across Norway, the Nordics and Europe.

“Norwegian’s development during the past 20 years would not have been possible without our passengers, and our goal – affordable flights for all – was well received by travellers since the very first day. Not everyone in the industry was happy about the new competition but since then, airfares have dropped and Norwegian has made air travel accessible to the wider public. I would like to thank our passengers and employees for making Norwegian a 20-year-old with a bright looking future ahead,” said Geir Karlsen, CEO of Norwegian.

In 2002, Norwegian operated seven aircraft with about 300 employees. The following year, which was the first full year of operation, more than 1.2 million passengers travelled with Norwegian. In comparison, the company carried about 2.2 million passengers in July 2022 only.

The 20th birthday was celebrated at Oslo airport in connection with the anniversary flight to Bergen, exactly 20 years after Norwegian’s very first flight. Norwegian’s founder Bjørn Kjos, State Secretary Jacob Bjelland from the Norwegian Ministry of Transport, and CEO Abraham Foss from the airport operator Avinor, were present to take part in the celebration.

From left: Norwegian's founder Bjørn Kjos and CEO Geir Karlsen attended the 20th anniversary at Oslo Gardermoen Airport.

The crew members are wearing the same uniform that was used in 2002. Here together with CEO Geir Karlsen.

All passengers on board the anniversary flight from Oslo to Bergen received a gift card. CEO Geir Karlsen is talking to passengers.   


About Norwegian

Norwegian was founded in 1993 but began operating as a low-cost carrier with Boeing 737 aircraft in 2002. Since then, our mission has been to offer affordable fares for all and to allow customers to travel the smart way by offering value and choice throughout their journey.

Norwegian has been voted Europe’s Best Low-Cost airline by Skytrax for six consecutive years and won Airline Program of the Year Europe & Africa at the Freddie Awards for four consecutive years. Since 2012, Norwegian has won over 55 awards for our service, product, and innovation in the industry.

We were the first airline in the world to join the UN Climate Secretariat’s climate action-initiative in 2019, pledging to work systematically to become carbon neutral by 2050.

Norwegian operates a short haul network across the Nordics and to key European destinations providing customers with excellent quality at affordable fares.


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Press contact Norwegian Press Office +47 815 11 816
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The Norwegian group is a leading Nordic aviation company, headquartered at Fornebu outside Oslo, Norway. The company has over 8,200 employees and owns two of the prominent airlines in the Nordics: Norwegian Air Shuttle and Widerøe’s Flyveselskap. Widerøe was acquired by Norwegian in 2024, aiming to facilitate seamless air travel across the two airline’s networks.

Norwegian Air Shuttle, the largest Norwegian airline with around 4,700 employees, operates an extensive route network connecting Nordic countries to key European destinations. In 2023, Norwegian carried over 20 million passengers and maintained a fleet of 87 Boeing 737-800 and 737 MAX 8 aircraft.

Widerøe’s Flyveselskap, Norway’s oldest airline, is Scandinavia’s largest regional carrier. The airline has more than 3,500 employees. Mainly operating the short-runway airports in rural Norway, Widerøe operates several state contract routes (PSO routes) in addition to its own commercial network. In 2023, the airline had 3.3 million passengers and a fleet of 48 aircraft, including 45 Bombardier Dash 8’s and three Embraer E190-E2's. Widerøe Ground Handling provides ground handling services at 41 Norwegian airports.

The Norwegian group has sustainability as a key priority and has committed to significantly reducing carbon emissions from its operations. Among numerous initiatives, the most noteworthy is the investment in production and use of fossil-free aviation fuel (SAF). Norwegian strives to become the sustainable choice for its passengers, actively contributing to the transformation of the aviation industry.