AIRLINE Norwegian has shaken up its senior management as part of its rapid expansion.

Geir Karlsen will join the carrier from London-based shipping company Navig8 Group.

He will replace acting chief financial officer Tore Ostby on a permanent basis. Ostby will move into a new position as executive vice president of strategic development. He remains part of group management.

Norwegian’s route network includes flights from London Gatwick, Belfast, Edinburgh and Manchester.

The airline flew 5.8 million passengers from the UK and Ireland in 2017, up by more than a quarter on the previous year.

It has described 2018 as its “biggest ever year of growth”, with new long-haul routes including its first service to South America with flights from Gatwick to Buenos Aires, an expanded premium cabin, and in-flight Wi-Fi on some longer flights.

Karlsen said he is looking forward to taking part in Norwegian’s “ambitious growth plans”.

He added: “Aviation is characterised by strong competition and I hope and believe that my background and experience will contribute to further developing the company.”

Karlsen has held various chief financial officer positions with companies over the past 12 years.

Norwegian operates 130 aircraft and has more than 260 on order.

Chief executive Bjorn Kjos said: “I’m very pleased that Geir Karlsen will be a part of our team.

“A major part of his professional experience clearly resembles the airline industry, where lease agreements and financing of major transactions are key to succeed.

“At the same time, he has extensive management experience from major international companies that is very important to enable Norwegian’s global growth.”

The third change in the company’s group management is the hiring of electronics engineer Kurt Simonsen as chief information officer. He has spent the past 17 years as a partner and co-owner of the consulting firm Infocom Group.

The firm said he has a “long and broad experience from major change and digitisation processes”.

The carrier serves more than 150 destinations with a policy of offering low fares based on “lean organisation and fuel-efficient aircraft”.

Yesterday, the Scandinavian airline said it flew 5.8m passengers from the UK and Ireland over last year, a rise of more than a quarter on 2016’s total. It launched 15 new routes, and has more long-haul picks on the horizon this year, including its first to South America.

Norwegian announced flights to Argentina last month, opening 72 local and 80 international routes to the company in a move the Argentinian government said would generate 3200 direct jobs in Argentina.

Norwegian is currently the sixth largest low-cost carrier in the world with around 7000 employees.

The airline was founded in 1993.