Norwegian Air Shuttle AS agreed to lease two Boeing Co. 787-9 Dreamliners, adding larger models while expanding its long-haul fleet to 10 planes as the discount carrier broadens its reach into Asia and the U.S.
The aircraft, leased from Jordache Enterprises’ New York-based MG Aviation Ltd. unit, are scheduled to enter service in the first quarter of 2016, the Fornebu, Norway-based airline said in a statement today.
“To run a competitive long-haul operation, we are dependent on brand new cost-efficient aircraft,” Chief Executive Officer Bjoern Kjos said in the statement. “I’m very satisfied to have secured our first two 787-9 Dreamliners.”
Norwegian Air already has three smaller 787-8 Dreamliners and five on order. The carrier is seeking to leverage lower operating costs to turn a profit on cut-price long-haul trips where others such as Laker Airways have failed. The airline began flying from Scandinavia to U.S. cities and Bangkok this year, and will connect London Gatwick Airport with New York, Los Angeles and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, starting in July.
The 787-9s will be able to carry as many as 20 percent more passengers than the 787-8 version and will offer 8 percent lower fuel consumption per seat, Norwegian Air said. The company didn’t give a planned configuration for the new planes. Its current layout offers 291 seats, with 32 in premium economy and 259 in economy.
Kjos said in an interview earlier this month that the viability of discount flights hinges on using the most efficient planes, rather than purchase costs, with the 787 burning 10 percent less fuel than Airbus SAS’s A330. The Airbus A350 would have been an alternative option, rather than the A330, had it been available before late 2014, he said.