Norwegian CEO Bjorn Kjos has said the airline intends to ‘send Boeing the bill’ for costs related to the UK’s ban on flying the B737 Max 8 aircraft following the Ethiopian Airlines crash.
In a video statement released today, Kjos apologised to those affected by the disruption, but said Norwegian had been “working tirelessly to find solutions for passengers”, such as combining flights, relocating aircraft and rebooking customers to alternative departures.
He said only 1 per cent of Norwegian’s total seat capacity was affected by the Civil Aviation Authority’s decision to ground the 737 Max 8 model that has been involved in two crashes in the last five months. The carrier used the Max 8 on routes from Gatwick, Edinburgh, Belfast, Dublin, Cork and Shannon. It ordered 100 of the aeroplanes to replace its existing fleet of 737-800s.
Kjos commented: “What happens next is in the hands of European aviation authorities, but we hope and expect that our Maxes will be airborne soon.
“Many have asked about how this will affect our financial situation. It is quite obvious that we will not take the cost related to the new aircraft that we have to park temporarily. We will send this bill to those who produce this aircraft.”
Norwegian has been financially struggling in recent years, recording losses in 2017 and 2018. The carrier has been cutting costs in an effort to return to profitability as passenger numbers continue to rise. International Airlines Group (IAG) sold its 4 per cent share in Norwegian earlier this year after its take-over bids were rejected.
Forty countries had banned the use of the aircraft as of this morning, though the US Federal Aviation Administration is standing by its claim that its review has found no basis to ground the Max 8.
Meanwhile, travel risk management firm WorldAware has recommended that travellers avoid flights using the B737 Max 8 and Max 9 “until we know if the Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air crashes are linked”. The company believes authorities are likely to lift any ban on the aircraft within the next two weeks and that the move should not cause significant disruptions to global air travel.
The firm also specified that its recommendation does not apply to the B737-800 or B737-900, which are different models to the Max aircraft.