The High Court has granted creditor protection to Norwegian Air and its Irish subsidiaries, allowing the Oslo-based airline more time to restructure its massive debt.

Norwegian last month applied for examinership protection as the carrier seeks to stave off collapse amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

The judge said he had agreed to protection of Oslo-based Norwegian Air as well as its Irish subsidiaries as the survival of each was dependent on the survival of the other.

"I have concluded in this case that it is appropriate to appoint an examiner both in relation to the five petitioner companies and also in relation to the related company Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA," Justice Michael Quinn told the court.

Major Norwegian Air creditors, including aircraft lessors Aercap and BOC Aviation, aircraft manufacturer Airbus did not oppose the petition.

After growing rapidly to become Europe's third-largest low-cost airline and the biggest foreign carrier serving New York, Norwegian's debt and liabilities stood at 66.8 billion crowns or $7.7 billion at the end of September.

Only six of the company's 140 aircraft are currently in use, while the remaining 134 are grounded due to the pandemic, including the company's entire fleet of Boeing 787 Dreamliners used for its suspended transatlantic flight programme.