* Norwegian Air places order despite technical problems
* Airline has three Dreamliners in operation
By Joachim Dagenborg and Gwladys Fouche
OSLO, Dec 18 Norwegian Air is buying
another two Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners, seeing the
aircraft's technical advances as outweighing its operating
problems as the budget carrier expands in long-haul services.
Europe's third-biggest budget airline said on Wednesday it
had signed a deal to buy the two planes and was negotiating for
further Dreamliner deliveries, despite a series of problems with
its existing planes earlier this year.
Norwegian launched long-haul operations this year and hoped
to capitalise on Dreamliner's lower operating costs, as the
jet's lighter-weight engines promised a 20 percent savings on
But during the autumn its first two Dreamliners broke down
more than half a dozen times, forcing it to lease back-up planes
on short notice or cancel flights. The two Dreamliners with
problems are now back in full operation.
Recent technical problems have not reduced Norwegian Air's
appetite for Boeing's latest model, its chief executive told
"We are in concrete negotiations about more Dreamliners than
the two we are announcing today," Bjoern Kjos said on the
margins of a visit to the Oslo stock exchange, adding there
could even be even more order further down the line.
"We are not thinking of stopping at 10 Dreamliners ... How
many Dreamliners we will have in 2020 depends on how many we can
get hold of in 2016 to 2017. There is limited availability. At
the same time not everyone can get hold of them."
Norwegian currently has three Boeing 787-8s in operation and
another five on order. The 787-9 is a stretched version of the
plane with longer range. The latest two planes on order, for
delivery in 2016, would bring the number of Dreamliners
Norwegian Air wants to 10.
Norwegian Air, which ranks third among budget carriers by
passenger numbers after Ryanair and easyJet, put
its third Dreamliner into operation in November.
Last year the airline placed one of Europe's biggest-ever
aircraft orders, for 222 narrow-body aircraft worth $21.5
billion at list prices, split between EADS unit Airbus
Norwegian Air was not the only company with problems with
Dreamliners as Air India and Japan's JAL have also
Boeing has said it is committed to improve the performance
of the plane and is putting in appropriate resources to fix the