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One of Europe’s leading budget airlines, Norwegian Air, will allow passengers to buy tickets using bitcoin. And Norwegian is not stopping there. It’s also opening its own cryptocurrency exchange, Norway's Dagens Næringsliv (DN) newspaper reported yesterday.
Norwegian plans to allow customers living in Norway to start purchasing plane tickets for flights in cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin. Its new Norwegian Block Exchange (NBX) will be available to them from August. And, according to DN, Norwegian will roll out exchanges in neighboring countries over the coming months.
NBX will integrate Norwegian Air’s existing rewards program, and customers can earn points by trading on the exchange, which they can swap for discounts on tickets and other perks.
"NBX's customers are given the opportunity to earn cash points "on trades on the stock exchange, as well as on payments made through the payment solution NBX stock for the airline," Stig A. Kjos-Mathisen, who will head up the exchange, told DN.
Norwegian Air operates a fleet of 195 aircrafts flying over 500 routes throughout the world. The company was founded in 1993 by Bjørn Kjos, 73, who, two weeks ago, stepped down from his role as CEO. According to DN, it’s Kjos’ son, Lars, who is likely to be behind the decision to embrace cryptocurrency.
Lars Ola Kjos, 41, has been working for the airline for a number of years, but is also a big investor in bitcoin. According to DN he holds over $400,000 in the cryptocurrency, purchased mainly before November 2017.
However, another factor may be playing a role in Norwegian’s planned crypto operations: the group’s shares are down more than 75% since April 2018 and its finances remain stretched, following bold plans to take on the transatlantic airlines in the long-haul market. Diversification seems like a way out of that financial hole.
Norwegian is not the first travel company to accept cryptocurrencies, California-based online travel agency CheapAir has been accepting Bitcoin since 2013.
But now it looks like crypto may truly be taking off in the airline sector.