March 13, 2019 / 9:34 AM / 4 months ago

Norwegian Air to seek compensation from Boeing for MAX groundings

OSLO (Reuters) - Norwegian Air (NWC.OL) said on Wednesday it will seek compensation from plane maker Boeing (BA.N) for lost revenue and extra costs after grounding its fleet of 737 MAX 8 aircraft in the wake of the Ethiopian Airlines crash.

FILE PHOTO: Bjorn Kjos, CEO of Norwegian Group, speaks during the presentation of Norwegian Air first low cost transatlantic flight service from Argentina at Ezeiza airport in Buenos Aires, Argentina, March 8, 2018. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci

“We expect Boeing to take this bill,” Norwegian said in an emailed statement to Reuters.

The Oslo-based airline has 18 ‘MAX’ passenger jets in its 163-aircraft fleet. European regulators on Tuesday grounded the aircraft following Sunday’s crash of a similar plane in Ethiopia, which killed 157 people and was the second crash involving that type of plane since October. [nL3N20Z0R6]

Boeing Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg told employees on Monday that he was confident in the safety of the 737 MAX in an email to employees which was seen by Reuters. [nL1N20Y1K8]

Industry sources, however, said the planemaker faces big claims after the crash.

Norwegian has bet heavily on the ‘MAX’ to become its aircraft of choice for short and medium-range flights in coming years as the low-cost carrier seeks to boost its fuel efficiency and thus cut the cost of flying.

The airline was maintaining its order for more aircraft of the same type from Boeing, spokesman Lasse Sandaker-Nielsen said.

Norwegian is expected to take delivery of dozens more of the ‘MAX’ in coming years, raising the overall number to more than 70 by year-end 2021, according to recent company announcements.

Norwegian cancelled some flights on Tuesday and on Wednesday it cancelled at least three dozen departures, its website showed, most of which were due to fly from airports in Oslo, Stockholm and other Nordic cities.

The company said it aimed to minimise the impact on passengers by booking them on to other flights and utilising other types of planes from its fleet to help fill the gaps.

“We are able to accommodate most intra-European passengers by these efforts but are still working on other options for our passengers travelling between Ireland and the U.S.,” Norwegian said.

Reporting by Terje Solsvik and Lefteris Karagiannopoulos; Editing by Kim Coghill and Susan Fenton

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