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Chief executive Bjørn Kjos (photo: Norwegian)

Norwegian looks for new chief executive

Who might take the helm when longstanding chief executive Bjørn Kjos, 72, plans to retire in the next year or two? In an interview, Kjos also has words for Ryanair.

The board of directors at Norwegian has started looking for someone to replace longstanding chief executive Bjørn Kjos when the 72-year-old steps down, an article in the online newspaper Nettavisen reports.

In a long interview, Kjos feels he has been running on “overtime” and hopes he won’t still be CEO three years from now.

“You’re not going to work too long for such a job, and I’ve been working for a long time,” he says.

“I think it’s really fun to be a Norwegian boss and I have so many good people around me. Otherwise, I could never have done the job I do.”

Possible successors
Potential successors named in the article include Hurtigruten Group CEO Daniel Skjeldam, 43, and Kjos’ daughter and pilot Anna Helene Kjos, 35.

Norwegian’s chairman, Bjørn Kise, tells Nettavisen: “The board has initiated a process to identify potential followers to Bjørn. We have a plan.”

Kjos has been running the carrier since he founded it in 2002. Responding to speculation that the company, now Europe’s fourth largest low-cost carrier, may be acquired, he replies that Norwegian never said it was looking for a buyer.

But he adds that if it were interested in being taken over, IAG would be a good fit. There was intense speculation about such a deal earlier this year.

Flying Ryanair
On Ryanair’s top dog Michael O’Leary, who has in the past predicted Norwegian’s bankruptcy, Kjos says: “He has been working on this since 2002. We dropped Ryanair as a partner in favour of easyJet last year and he didn’t like it. In addition, he tries to do all he can to direct attention away from the cancellations Ryanair has to make now because of the strikes.”

It’s not uncommon for Kjos to fly with companies other than Norwegian, Nettavisen writes, but Ryanair is not among them. He says that the last he flew Ryanair he was charged a penalty.

The Norwegian boss checked in at the airport an hour and a half before departure, but Ryanair requires you check in at least two hours before, so Kjos was slapped with a fee of NOK 1000 (€100).

“I don’t like such companies. It’s a philosophy that I don’t want to be part of. If you buy a ticket and check in one and a half hours before take-off, you shouldn’t be [treated like that]. I will never fly Ryanair again,” he says.

Related stories

Norwegian tries to sell 60 new aircraft

Norwegian partners up with easyJet

IAG and Norwegian: perfect marriage or hostile takeover?

Norwegian dismisses O’Leary’s claims about its future

A transatlantic, low-cost battle: Kjos interview

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