Sunday, 11 June 2017

USA: Norwegian’s First 737 MAX Delivery Postponed

Boeing has postponed the delivery to Norwegian Air Shuttle of its first 737 MAX 8, originally set on June 13. This is the third delay experienced by the low-cost carrier, which was expecting to receive its first MAX in late May.

While the reasons behind the decision were not disclosed, the initial delivery date was postponed due to quality control issues found on the CFM International LEAP-1B engines earlier this month.

These issues halted the flights of its 737 MAX fleet during three days, slipping by one day the delivery to Malindo Air, which took place on May 19.

Norwegian’s inaugural 737 MAX flight was supposed to take place on June 15th from Edinburgh to Stewart International Airport in New York. However, the new delivery date has now been set “to the end of June.” The inaugural flight and initial flights between Edinburgh and Stewart originally planned to be operated by the MAX, will be now be served with a Boeing 737-800.

The ETOPS 737-800s will be limited to a payload capacity of 150 passengers, below the 189 passenger capacity of the MAX. According to Norwegian, none of the initial flights have been booked over 150 passengers, so no there’s no raccommodation of passengers.

In a statement, Norwegian said ““Boeing has informed us that the delivery of our first 737 MAX is postponed until the end of June. This will not affect our operation or our passengers, as the upcoming launch of transatlantic routes between the U.S. East Coast and Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Norway will be operated by another aircraft type.”

Boeing later issued its own statement, “On occasion delivery processes runs into minor issues – whether for maintenance or other reasons. In this case, we and our customer decided to reschedule this delivery in order to resolve a minor technical issue. We fully expect to deliver later this month and look forward to the MAX entering revenue service with Norwegian.”

Norwegian plans to receive six 737 MAX 8 in 2017. Of these, four will be based in Stewart and two in T.F. Green Airport in Rhode Island.

The main celebrations will be at Stewart on the 15th and Providence on the 16th as it kicks off several new routes from these two airports. The new routes of the long-haul low-cost European carrier from Providence to Belfast, Cork, Dublin, Edinburgh and Shannon are the first-ever year-round European routes for Rhode Island’s largest airport.

From Stewart, Norwegian will be the first carrier to provide European service with four routes to Belfast, Dublin, Edinburgh and Shannon.

Norwegian will also operate one route from Bradley, New England’s second largest airport, to Edinburgh.

Norwegian also has more than 20 Dreamliners on order, which will be used to fuel the carrier’s expansion to main US cities. London flights from Denver and Seattle will begin in September, and flights to Rome from Los Angeles and Newark will start in November. Flights from Oakland to Rome will start in February 2018.

As these Dreamliners join the fleet, Norwegian is considering new European destinations from the USA. Madrid, Amsterdam and a German city like Dusseldorf, Munich or Berlin, and has plans for seasonal services to Budapest and Prague.

The European expansion from the United States does not end there. Norwegian believes that the 737 MAX and the Airbus A321LR open up a plethora of new opportunities and destinations, enabling the airline to launch unserved routes that would not be profitable with the Dreamliner, but suitable for a narrowbody.

Norwegian is seeking to deploy its MAX fleet to Nice, Lyon and other cities in France from the northeastern U.S.

Next week, Norwegian will start serving Barcelona from the United States. According to the airline, booking has been “really good.” Paris and London have also been performing well, with booking well over 90%.