According to Norwegian media sources, customers of Norway-based airline conglomerate Norwegian Air will soon be able to purchase plane tickets using bitcoin. The company also reportedly has plans to open Norwegian Block Exchange (NBX), a cryptocurrency exchange specifically intended to facilitate the process.
Although the use of crypto assets for plane tickets is not a wholly novel concept in the space, Norwegian Air’s plans seem to take this concept further than previous projects. Several companies have advertised the option to use cryptocurrency to purchase flight tickets, but the majority of these attempts come from travel agencies that don’t actually own the airlines in question.
airBaltic, the primary Latvian air transportation company, does offer the option to purchase plane tickets with bitcoin and ether, with transactions handled via Coinbase. But Norwegian Air’s attempt to open up its own exchange for this purpose appears unprecedented.
According to the local news report, Lars Ola Kjos, the son of Norwegian Air’s founder, was likely a key influence in this policy shift in the family business. A longtime employee and crypto enthusiast, he has accumulated more than $400,000 in bitcoin, primarily before the latest bull run ended in November 2017.
Company founder and CEO Bjorn Kjos stepped down in July 2019, claiming that “you shouldn’t lead an airline past your seventies.” Since April 2018, the stock value of Norwegian Air has fallen by a devastating 75 percent. Thus, as much as this decision is a daring venture into the world of crypto, it also represents something of a significant gamble for a company under financial duress.