On the 14th of January, Norwegian Air Shuttle announced plans to focus on short-haul flying and abandon long-haul. Norwegian’s quest for profitability long preceded COVID-19.
The restructuring plan calls for 50 narrowbodies in 2021, rising to 70 in 2022. That’s less than 50% of its 2019 fleet.
Though Norwegian was founded in 1993, it wasn’t until the late-2000s that ambitions to become a sizeable low-cost carrier emerged. Large orders for 737NGs, 737MAX, 787s, and A320neos heralded a period of rapid expansion and entry into long-haul low-cost – a market that has tantalized industry watchers for decades yet has shown itself to be an easy way of losing large amounts of money.
Norwegian’s 787s, powered by RR Trent 1000s, peaked at 37 aircraft and the overall fleet peaked in 2019 with 166 aircraft. The airline was an early adopter of Boeing’s GoldCare MRO service, leading Boeing to construct a hangar at London Gatwick. Norwegian canceled the GoldCare agreement in 2020.
The resizing is clearly vital given the COVID-19 situation and reduced long-haul demand. However, the changes result in ~30 787s (average age 3.7 years) and ~40 surplus 737s (average age 6.6 years) looking for new homes and orders for ~180 aircraft (~92 737MAX and ~88 A320neo) presumably under review.
Date: March 29 , 2022
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