Norwegian Air, one of the largest airlines in Europe, will soon its customers pay for flights using cryptocurrency.
Founded in 1993, Norwegian Air Shuttle is the largest airline company in Scandinavia and the third-largest low-cost airline in Europe. Its destinations include all Europe and North Africa, as well as selected cities in the Americas.
To allow its customers purchase tickets with digital assets, Norwegian Air partnered with Norwegian Block Exchange (NBX), a local crypto trading platform.
NBX CEO Stig Kjos-Mathisen said in an interview with a local business newspaper “Everything is ready to go from our side” and announced that his crypto trading platform had already successfully developed the necessary payment infrastructure.
Kjos-Mathisen is the son-in-law of Bjørn Kjos, the founder and CEO of Norwegian Air, who has been involved in NBX since it launched in 2019. We can be sure that for quite some time, Bjørn Kjos has been planning to use the exchange to offer cryptocurrency support for airline ticket purchases.
It is unclear so far which cryptocurrencies will be supported on NBX. The founder’s son, Lars Ola Kjors, is believed to have bought 3.5 million NOK ($404,000) worth of bitcoin (BTC) in 2017 before the cryptocurrency hit its all-time high of around $20,000.
Pandemic and crypto
Norwegian Air has seen a steady growth in recent years. It carried over 37 million passengers in 2018, its highest ever figure within a single year. However, as the airline industry reels from coronavirus, the future prospects for Norwegian Air doesn’t look as assured as before the pandemic.
In such a reality, credit card companies may hold back client’s forward payments as collateral.
Since airlines depend on taking credit card payments from customers well in advance of delivering the service in order to fund their businesses, airline companies simply may not have funds to keep the planes flying.
With their bookings collapsing, airlines are frantically trying to preserve cash by cancelling flights, deferring aircraft deliveries, sending employees home and drawing down credit lines with banks. Moreover, airlines may hold their customers’ cash as cover for trips that customers had paid for but not yet taken.
Such a situation may compel Norwegian Air to look at alternative currencies as a way to divest from the conventional financial system.
We may soon see other companies adopting novel currencies as a way to be in bigger control of their cash.
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