Norwegian Air Shuttle AS (NAS) said 15 Boeing Co. (BA:US) technicians are working to resolve faults that led to the grounding of one of its 787 jets and will remain to do maintenance on the airline’s other Dreamliner.
“The other plane is performing well,” Chief Executive Officer Bjoern Kjos said in an interview in New York today. It will be taken out of service “later” and undergo routine maintenance only, the executive said.
Glitches on the two Dreamliners operated by Norwegian Air, Europe’s fourth-biggest discount airline, have included a brake fault that delayed the second plane’s entry into the fleet in early September and a cockpit oxygen-supply flaw. While hiccups with the Dreamliner’s introduction have slowed Norwegian Air’s push into low-cost long-haul services that began in May, the airline is committed to the jet and will considering buying the larger 787-9 model, Kjos said.
“We think it’s a fantastic airplane,” the executive said, adding that the carrier did speak with Airbus SAS about ordering the manufacturer’s new A350 jet. “We need more Dreamliners. It’s highly likely we’ll look at the 787-9.”
Boeing’s airliner, distinctive for its composite fuselage and electrical architecture, made its commercial debut in 2011. Regulators grounded 787s worldwide for three months following the overheating of lithium-ion batteries on two 787s in January.
The Fornebu, Norway-based carrier ordered 222 Boeing and Airbus planes last year valued at 127 billion kroner ($21 billion), including eight 787s. Destinations outside the Nordic region include Bangkok and New York, and the airline plans services to Orlando, Florida, starting in May.
New route announcements are “highly likely” if the company gains a permanent Irish Air Operator Certificate, Kjos said. A ruling is expected in December, he said.
Norwegian Air has sought to leverage the 787’s lower operating costs in a push to offer discounted trans-Atlantic trips at a profit and succeed where long-haul no-frills carriers such as Laker Airways have failed. The company outlined plans in September to hire as many as 350 U.S. employees and add bases at existing destinations New York and Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
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