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UPDATE 1-Norway suspends fees as first aid for virus-hit airlines

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OSLO, March 13 (Reuters) - Norway's government on Friday suspended fees and taxes on airlines and is in talks with the country's aviation industry on further measures to help alleviate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the country's finance minister said.

Norwegian Air, already suffering big losses and haemorrhaging cash in recent years, on Thursday announced it would temporarily lay off up to half its 11,000 employees as thousands of flights were scrapped.

Europe's third-largest budget carrier and a major customer of Boeing Co has repeatedly called on governments to help the airline industry.

As a first step on Friday, Norway suspended all airport fees for the first six months of 2020 and the tax Norway charges for each passenger will be lifted for a period of 10 months, Finance Minister Jan Tore Sanner told a news conference.

He said it was too early to say what other measures could be introduced.

"We are well-informed of the wishes of the airline industries," he said. "I don't want to speculate on what measures could be implemented."

The government also said it would pay a greater part of the bill for all companies seeking to make temporary layoffs, but stopped short of issuing any blanket guarantees.

The Nordic country invoked emergency powers on Thursday to close a wide range of public and private institutions to try to limit the spread of the virus, and asked people to refrain from leisure travel. (Reporting by Victoria Klesty; editing by Terje Solsvik and Barbara Lewis)

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