FRANKFURT-After 17 years as CEO of Norwegian Air Shuttle, and as the airline fights to achieve its financial turnaround, Bjoern Kjos has made a decision to step down-effective immediately-handing over responsibility to new Acting CEO Geir Karlsen, previously CFO and Deputy CEO."I'm not sorry [to go]", Kjos said at a July 11 press briefing. A former fighter pilot, Kjos helped to expand what was a tiny Norwegian airline housed in pre-fabricated barracks on the edge of Oslo airport.
The 72-year-old has led the organisation for 17 years, seeing it grow from a small regional airline to become one of the largest low-priced carriers in Europe.
"People ask me 'isn't Norwegian your baby?' It is not my baby, it is the baby of 11,000 people", Kjos told a news conference, referring to the number of Norwegian's employees.
Chief Financial Officer Geir Karlsen will act as interim CEO while the company hires a permanent, new CEO.
Norwegian Air shook up global aviation by offering discounted flights within Europe and to the United States, Asia, and Latin America.
Bjørn Kjos has stepped down as the chief executive of Norwegian Air. "A new CEO will probably have a more flexible look at this", said Sydbank analyst Jacob Pedersen, who said he was "surprised" Kjos was stepping down.
The company suffered further profit losses after it grounded its 18 Boeing 737 MAX planes, which it expects to return to service in October this year.
Its shares traded 2% higher at 0723 GMT.
"Bjørn is definitely one of the most influential European entrepreneurs of our time", Mr Smedegaard added.
The chief executive of one of Europe's largest low-priced carriers stepped down Thursday from the company he founded and still partially owns.
The company was forced to cut several routes after the Ethiopian Airlines disaster led to a global grounding of Boeing 737 Max 8 jets, of which Norwegian Air was a launch customer.
The company, which was set up in 1993, reported second-quarter earnings that beat expectations on Thursday.
Its net profit came in at 82.8 million crowns, down from 300.3 million in the same period past year, but ahead of the average forecast of 76.2 million from five analysts compiled by Refinitiv.