Jacob Schram took the helm as the new CEO of Norwegian Air Shuttle on January 1st, 2020. He accepted the permanent position after years of leadership by Norwegian’s founder and CEO Bjørn Kjos. Geir Karlsen resumed the position as interim CEO in July of 2019 when Kjos retired. Karlsen would continue as CFO and Deputy CEO for the airline until Schram came on board. Kjos stayed on as an adviser.
Norwegian Air was founded in 1993 but began operating as a low-cost Boeing 737 carrier in 2002. The long-haul operations were later added with Boeing 787 Dreamliners.
The solid education and business-background of Jacob Schram
CEO Schram (born in 1962), a Norwegian citizen, came to Norwegian Air Shuttle after first gaining valuable experience at several major international companies.
He has a Master’s Degree in Economics from the renowned Copenhagen Business School.
Before he came to Norwegian Air Shuttle, Jacob Schram held managing roles in McKinsey & Company and McDonald’s. Then, he held executive positions at Circle K and Norway’s Statoil Fuel & Retail (SFR). He also acted as an Advisor at Antler from 2018 to 2019.
As CEO of Statoil Fuel & Retail, he led the process of publicly listing SFR on the Norwegian Stock Exchange in 2010. When Couche-Tard acquired SFR in 2012, he held the position as Group President for Europe. He stayed in that position until he stepped down in 2018.
Schram initiated and led the global rebranding to Circle K at more than 10,000 stores across Couche-Tard’s international network and service stations.
In 2017, he received the NACS European Industry Leader Award.
Norwegian Air Shuttle CEO Jacob Schram, the Captain of the Carrier
The Essence of business – a book on how to do business
Schram’s book “The Essence Of Business” is considered a valuable book on business strategies, according to many airline professionals that Captain Jetson’s staff has discussed the book’s content with. During the last year, Schram has also worked with private investments, start-ups, and presentations related to his book.
Jacob Scram becoming CEO of Norwegian Air
Schram brought an impressive resume and experience on board when he became the CEO in January 2020. With an intelligent, methodical, yet aggressive attitude, he was all set to implement his plan of action. This plan of action should take Norwegian from big losses to an eventual profit over time.
Upon becoming the new Norwegian CEO, Jacob Schram summarized his vision for the airline,
“Now, my main focus will be to bring the company back to profitability and fortify the company’s position as a strong international player within the aviation industry.”
–Then came the coronavirus pandemic.
How is Schram building the New Norwegian?
Under Schram, the term “the New Norwegian” became a widely used description of the airline’s new and positive image.
A revised business plan
Needless to say, Schram’s initial business-strategies clearly had to be altered. That to be able to successfully go heads-on with the added threat of the COVID-19 crisis to Norwegian’s very survival.
Schram approved of a new and revised business plan to go heads-on with the pandemic and to plot a new direction for the airline overall.
Solving problems with brand new airplanes
Norwegian was plagued by continued problems with its brand new 787 aircraft after delivery. These unexpected and unnecessary issues were at no fault of the airline. New airplanes are normally a symbol of reliability in the operation of any airline.
The unreliability of the Boeing 787 Rolls Royce engines resulted in many surprise mechanical delays and cancellations for the airline.
Then came the sudden grounding of Norwegian’s 737 MAXs.
Under the helm of Schram, Norwegian has filed a lawsuit against Boeing to seek compensation for the millions of dollars the airline lost as a result of the manufacturing claims.
The New Norwegian with the Red-Nosed Warriors
Schram appears to strongly believe in his goals of getting Norwegian Air to profit. He is adjusting to the ever-changing needs and strategies, constantly monitoring things such as demand and situational awareness.
Appreciating his dedicated staff and the great work they do he refers to his entire team of managers as well as employees and associates as “Red-Nosed Warriors“, a great expression based on the livery (paint-scheme) of the Norwegian aircraft.
The New Norwegian Management Structure
When becoming the new CEO Schram announced his new management structure at Norwegian.
The biggest changes involved:
- two distinct commercial units in the Group,
- greater employee and customer focus,
- more efficient operation, and, not least,
- an organization that facilitates broad cooperation across the business.
The new group management took effect from June 2nd, 2020.
Norwegian Air Shuttle, new corporate departments
Along with filling management positions with the best-qualified person for each job, Schram established new departments, designed into the New Norwegian. The following new airline-departments were created:
- Airline Department: Full responsibility for the profit of the core business.
- Airline Ecosystem Department: The department will have full performance responsibilities and will drive new business ecosystems in connection with the company’s core business.
- Customer Department: Norwegian already had a customer department. However, responsibility for the entire customer journey will fall under the NEW Customer Department. The department will deliver the agreed products and services to both the Airline and Airline Ecosystem unit through concept/product development, brand & marketing, customer activation, and customer service.
- Operations Department: To work towards the airline profit unit and provide agreed-upon products and services within flight operations. It will also provide technical and maintenance, ground services, security, and emergency preparedness procedures.
- IT, Supply Chain & Process Improvement Department: A newly created function that will optimize and streamline all of the company’s processes, systems, and procurement.
- People Department: This department will have overall responsibility for all the company’s employees, including pilots and cabin crew. All HR activities, including all training and development of employees, will also be part of this department.
- Communications Department: Responsible for external and internal communication, sustainability, and public affairs.
“I have been committed to putting in place a management structure that takes us from growth to profitability by delivering our new Norwegian strategy and business plan. In order to run a profitable and sustainable company going forward, I will build the commercial part around two distinct entities with clear P&L responsibilities,”
said CEO Jacob Schram. He continued,
“We need to be able to attract, retain, and develop good people, which is why the responsibility for all the company’s employees is placed in one department. Our employees and their contribution to New Norwegian is vital to achieving the company’s goals.”
“By bringing departments together to focus on our customers we gain insight and power to innovate and use smart choices throughout their customer journey. We will remain true to the core values of Norwegian which have been in place since its inception – a popular company that offers good quality flights at a good price.”
I have also been committed to improving operations through a simplified structure, clear roles, and responsibilities, as well as even more efficient operations.”
“We will be flexible, actionable, and cooperate well across the group. I am very pleased to have put in place the management team for the New Norwegian and Red Nose Warriors and look forward to working together to make Norwegian the customers’ first choice when we are through this current crisis.”
Will Norwegian Air Shuttle succeed under CEO Jacob Schram?
There is every indication that Norwegian will steadily rise to success once the coronavirus pandemic is over. Jacob Schram’s New Norwegian is a brilliant think-tank of business problem-solvers. The New Norwegian led by Schram is surrounded by a team of highly capable Scandinavian airline managers. Typical of Scandinavians, they approach the task with a solid “can do” Viking- attitude. And don’t forget its founder and former CEO, the ex Norwegian Air Force F-104 and F-5 fighter pilot, Bjørn Kjos. He is still advising with the strategical inputs of the ongoing dogfight!
Featured Image: From the front cover of Jacob Schram’s book, The Essence Of Business. Amazon.
Trivia: Have you noticed that the color-theme of Norwegian’s airplanes are red, white, and blue? The livery choice is said to represent the colors of the Norwegian flag.
Disclosure: The author of this article is an independent writer for Captain Jetson Aviation and Travel News. He has no ties or stock ownership or any other interest in Norwegian Air. The content or views expressed in this article is entirely the journalist’s personal opinion. For any corrections to the story, please contact us here.