Norwegian Air takes Dreamliner out of service after breakdowns

OSLO Sat Sep 28, 2013 10:17am EDT

OSLO (Reuters) - Budget airline Norwegian Air Shuttle (NWC.OL) is taking one of its brand new Dreamliners out of long-haul service and demanding that Boeing (BA.N) repair the plane after it suffered repeated breakdowns, the carrier said on Saturday.

Boeing said the repairs would take "a matter of days".

Norwegian Air Shuttle will instead lease an Airbus EAD.PA A340 from HiFly to keep its long-haul business going, a spokesman said.

"The aircraft's reliability is simply not acceptable, our passengers cannot live with this kind of performance," spokesman Lasse Sandaker-Nielsen told Reuters.

"We are taking it out of long-haul service."

The Dreamliner was expected to be a game-changer for the aviation industry, but there have been delays getting it into service and setbacks including the grounding of all the planes due to battery problems.

The aircraft concerned is in Bangkok after a hydraulic pump failure this week and will be flown back to Stockholm.

"In consultation with Norwegian, the decision has been made to implement a number of enhancements to improve the airplane's in-service reliability following its return to Stockholm," Boeing said in a statement.

"As a result, it is expected the airplane will be out of service for a matter of days."

Norwegian launched long-haul operations this year and hoped to capitalize on Dreamliner's lower operating cost as the jet's lighter-weight engines promised a 20 percent savings on fuel.

But its first two Dreamliners, part of a planned fleet of eight, broke down over half a dozen times in September, forcing it to lease back-up planes on short notice or cancel flights.

Norwegian summoned Boeing's management this week and the aircraft manufacturer promised to locate spare parts centers at all of the airline's long-haul destinations and send a team of engineers to the Nordics to monitor the planes.

(Reporting by Balazs Koranyi; Editing by Hugh Lawson)