– The first thing we thought was “what can we do?” – H 24

- The first thing we thought was "what can we do?"  - H 24

Norwegian Travelers & Actions has donated NOK 50 million to the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, since 2007. Norwegian CEO Jair Carlsen now continues the legacy of Björn Keos.

Norway and UNICEF have worked closely together for nearly fifteen years. Here are Norwegian Chief Executive Officer Geir Carlsen and UNICEF Secretary-General Camilla Viken.


What was billed as a financial achievement, the Norwegian bailout, not only kept the airline afloat.

It also kept alive the most important Norwegian source of income for UNICEF.

However, that wasn’t the chief concern of UNICEF when her main partner was about to go to the wall earlier this year.

– The first thing we thought was “what can we do to help?”. Even if we can’t contribute capital or things like that, we can at least show support. There was great empathy with the staff, which we also had to deal with, says Secretary-General Camilla Viken at UNICEF Norway for E24.

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Of course we are affected

As is known, the Norwegian got rid of debts and repayment obligations about 140 billion NOK.

More than 100 aircraft were sold and returned to their owners, and about three-quarters of the company’s employees had to leave. The epidemic became raging at the same time.

– It is clear that we are affected and that the money is down. But it makes us happier now that the Norwegian has recovered so quickly, says Ficken.

Today, Norwegian has 51 aircraft, and another 13 to 15 are on the way. About 3,000 employees keep the wheel in what is now essentially a Norwegian company.

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Important for support

Since the collaboration began in 2007, several Norwegian initiatives and travelers have donated more than NOK 50 million to UNICEF.

The average approaches NOK 75 per passenger when they book their airline tickets on the Norwegian website.

Even during Corona 2020, with a deeply discounted flight offer, Norway passengers donated 1.3 million NOK to UNICEF.

This year it is expected to be even higher.

– We think UNICEF is doing a very good job, and it is important for us to support the work that UNICEF is doing, Norwegian CEO Geir Carlsen tells E24.

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Continue the legacy of Kjos

The collaboration between Norwegian and UNICEF has been going on for nearly fifteen years and was started by former Norwegian CEO Björn Keos, who resigned in July 2019.

Karlsen is now renewing its commitment to a new three-year period, until 2024.

– He is somehow a Child of the Heart by Bjorn Kjoss, who gives a strong inner commitment. At the same time, we see that passengers are also making a significant contribution, says Carlsen.

UNICEF Chief Executive Camilla Viken (left) and Norwegian Chief Executive Officer Geir Carlsen after attaching their signatures to the new agreement.

The UNICEF chief notes that the collaboration has already improved many children.

– Norwegian has shown the tremendous commitment among the staff, and has involved passengers, who have contributed with small donations. This commitment and energy is contagious as we work to make the world a better world for children, says Vicken.

– pay back the favor

The Norwegian has repeatedly transported emergency aid and medicine to high-risk areas UNICEF. It also provided the opportunity for Norwegian employees to contribute personally.

At least, it was valuable to employees who had a hard time, who were often refugees, being allowed to give something back, says Carlsen.

Then-Norwegian President Bjorn Keoss (left), then-Minister for Development Assistance Nikolai Astrop and UNICEF Secretary-General Camilla Feiken load emergency relief equipment to Chad on a Norwegian plane in Kastrup, September 2017.

For UNICEF, the Norwegian language is not only the largest source of income for the organization. The money that comes in monthly from airline passengers also comes without any restrictions.

– This is unallocated money, and it is the most valuable thing we get. This means we can use it where it’s needed most, says Viken.

She adds that UNICEF relies entirely on contributions. The organization does not receive any funding from the United Nations, but must raise all its own funds.

Emergency Flight Aid

A Norwegian Christmas gift for staff will also be donated to UNICEF this year. Carlsen says the Christmas gift is 300,000 kronor.

“It’s a scheme we’ve had for many years, seen and appreciated by the staff,” he says.

The most significant humanitarian flights undertaken by Norwegian for UNICEF were the Central African Republic (2014), Jordan (2015), Mali (2017), Yemen (2017) and Chad (2018).

The procedures were carried out in cooperation with the Norwegian authorities.

– We have plans to take a trip with humanitarian aid as well during this decade period, says the Norwegian president.

A Norwegian Air Force One wears a UNICEF suit here in 2008.

More actions

The Norwegian previously had a number of fundraising campaigns, both internally and externally, for income for UNICEF. The airline also auctioned virgin flights to generate income for UNICEF.

In 2017, a group of aircraft enthusiasts raised 200,000 NOK to escort them to Norway when the Norwegian company took delivery of its first Max aircraft from Boeing’s factory in Seattle, USA.

In January of this year, UNICEF also received 1.6 million NOK from Norway shareholders, when the board of directors decided to allow the gains after selling surplus shares from the stock paste to go to a charity.

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Dalila Awolowo

Dalila Awolowo

"Explorer. Unapologetic entrepreneur. Alcohol fanatic. Certified writer. Wannabe tv evangelist. Twitter fanatic. Student. Web scholar. Travel buff."

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