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Norway to help airlines with funding amid virus outbreak: PM

OSLO (Reuters) – The Norwegian government plans to help airlines secure funding that will allow them to remain in operation while bookings fall due to the coronavirus outbreak, Prime Minister Erna Solberg said on Wednesday.

“We aim to find targeted measures, particularly to ensure that they have liquidity to operate,” Solberg told parliament during a question and answer session, without elaborating.

Budget carrier Norwegian Air <NWC.OL>, whose shares have fallen by 75% this year, on Tuesday scrapped thousands of flights for the next three months and called on the government to help protect jobs.

The other two major carriers in Norway, Scandinavian airline SAS <SAS.ST> and local player Wideroe, have also sharply cut their schedules for the coming months.

In a news conference on Tuesday, the prime minister and finance minister promised a series of measures aimed at stimulating the economy and specific industries, including airlines, but offered few details.

The government’s first proposals will be presented to parliament on Friday, although the more specific help for airlines and the tourism industry will likely come later, it said.

(Reporting by Terje Solsvik; editing by John Stonestreet)