March 20 ------ Norwegian expedition cruise operator Hurtigruten and compatriot ferry companies Color Line and Fjord Line are laying off thousands of their employees due to the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic. On March 16, Hurtigruten announced a further 225 layoffs of onshore workers, explaining that the tourism industry has been hit very hard by the corona crisis. The announcement came only days after 120 workers at Hurtigruten’s offices in Norway lost their jobs. “This is the biggest crisis we and the rest of Norwegian tourism have experienced in many decades. It is an extraordinary situation, which changes from hour to hour and absolutely affects the entire tourism industry and threatens tens of thousands of jobs across the country,” Daniel Skjeldam, CEO of Hurtigruten, said. The company has also called for long-term measures by authorities that would ensure liquidity within the industry.
Similar measures are being implemented by Color Line as well. On Monday, the cruiseferry operator decided to temporarily lay off about 2,000 employees. As informed, on March 16, the parliament announced the first phase of an economic stimulus package to secure salaries and employees’ rights. Anyone who is temporarily laid-off will be given their full salary up to 6G (the National Insurance basic amount) for a minimum of 20 days. Color Line has halted all passenger traffic operations, in line with the instructions received by the governments. With the exception of Color Line’s cargo operations, all the sources of income are gone due to the suspended sailing operations, the company noted. “Because of this, we unfortunately must implement the use temporarily lay-off,” Trond Kleivdal, CEO of Color Line, explained.
According to Color Line, everyone will keep their insurances and those with temporary lay-off will still be employed by the company. “The temporary lay-off may be revoked on short notice, because we wish to be ready to accelerate when the governments open for passenger traffic between Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Germany,” Kleivdal continued.
Furthermore, ferry operator Fjord Line is also laying off about 100 of Norwegian employees as part of “several comprehensive measures to secure future operations.” The move follows the suspension of sailings on a number of shipping routes. Employees on land and on board in Denmark and Sweden will also be affected, though schemes introduced by the respective authorities, according to Fjord Line. “This is a very serious situation for us, but also for the industry as a whole. We hope that the authorities will contribute beyond what they have already done. The action packages are a good start, but for the industry to return to a competitive level there is a need for even more,” Rickard Ternblom, CEO of Fjord Line, pointed out.