UPDATE 1-Norwegian Air's shareholders back restructuring plan, says E24

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OSLO, March 18 (Reuters) - Norwegian Air’s shareholders voted in favour of the company’s debt restructuring plan on Thursday, business news website E24 reported.

The vote was the first of several procedural hurdles the airline faces as it battles to survive the coronavirus pandemic which has decimated air travel.

More than 99% of shareholders supported the so-called scheme of arrangement, E24 reported, which will be voted on separately by several groups of creditors on Thursday and Friday.

Norwegian Air was not immediately available for comment.

Norwegian shares were up 1.1% by 0856 GMT, outperforming the Oslo benchmark index.

If approved by enough creditors and Ireland’s High Court, the plan will enable Norwegian to raise new capital and emerge from bankruptcy protection in Ireland and Norway in May.

Norwegian Air has called the scheme a milestone in the process of securing the airline’s future.

As announced last year, the survival plan puts a definitive end to Norwegian’s long-haul business, leaving a slimmed-down airline focusing on Nordic and European routes.

As part of the plan, the airline must raise 4 billion to 5 billion crowns from new shares and hybrid capital, of which Norway’s government has said it is willing to contribute 1.5 billion. (Reporting by Victoria Klesty; Editing by Terje Solsvik and David Clarke)