Norwegian Air Shuttle AS said it will take delivery of its first Boeing Co. 787 on June 27 or 28 after a handover scheduled for April was delayed when the new wide-body jet was grounded in January following battery fires.
A second Dreamliner will arrive at the end of July, with the model to be trialled for three or four weeks on European routes before it’s introduced on the longer flights for which it was bought, Chief Executive Officer Bjoern Kjos said.
“We intend to start the first week of July on short-haul, then long-haul at the start of August,” Kjos said today in an interview in Hamburg. “In 2013 we will have three Dreamliners delivered, with four in 2014 and the last in January 2015.”
The initial European flights will probably be on routes from Scandinavia to London, Malaga in southern Spain or the north African city of Tunis, according to the CEO. Fornebu-based Norwegian Air’s longer-term aim for the 787 is to focus on destinations in Asia as it seeks to meet demand for affordable long-haul trips among the emerging middle class, Kjos said in March.
Norwegian Air will commence long-haul flying using Airbus SAS A340 planes while it prepares to introduce the Dreamliners, Kjos said today. In addition to leasing expenses, the four-engine jets are more costly to operate than the 787 and fly slower, and the bill is under discussion with Boeing, Kjos said.
Tickets for flights from Oslo and Stockholm to New York, commencing May 30, will sell from 130 euros ($169) each way, with seats from the same cities to Bangkok priced at 198 euros.
Kjos, a pilot who founded the airline in 1993, said Norwegian agreed with Virgin Group Ltd. on a joint training scheme for aviators. “We can draw on their experience on long-haul operations, while Virgin can get access to 787 aircraft,” he said. According to Kjos, Virgin will have to wait until 2014 before it will get its first Dreamliner delivered.
To expand its reach, Norwegian aims to cooperate with low-cost carriers in the U.S. and Asia in the future. “It might be that we will work with low-cost operators like Jet Blue in the U.S.,” said Kjos, adding that no agreement has been signed yet. “Our passengers could fly to New York with us and continue with Jet Blue to other places in U.S.”
Norwegian shares were unchanged today at 287.5 kroner, giving the company a market value of 10.1 billion kroner ($1.74 billion). The stock has doubled this year.