European budget airline Norwegian Air has cancelled orders for 97 aircraft from Chicago-based manufacturer Boeing, at the same time the company has levelled a suit to reclaim pre-delivery payments for the aircraft.
In total, orders for five wide-body 787 Dreamliners and 92 737 MAX narrow-body jets have been cancelled, as well as the GoldCare service agreement tied to both aircraft models.
“Norwegian has in addition filed a legal claim seeking the return of pre-delivery payments related to the aircraft and compensation for the company’s losses related to the grounding of the 737 MAX and engine issues on the 787,” said the airline in a filing made out to the national stock exchange.
This leaves Norwegian with just 18 Dreamliners – three operated by Norwegian Air Shuttle (Norway), 13 with Norwegian Air (Sweden), and a further two under the stewardship of Norwegian Air International. It adds that the worldwide grounding of the MAX as well as the “long-running reliability issues [of the 787] … resulted in premature and unplanned maintenance which has disrupted the company’s operations”.
The carrier added that it has been in negotiations with Boeing, but that this dialogue has not yet led to “an agreement with reasonable compensation to the company”.
Just days after European regulators grounded the 737 MAX in the wake of the Ethiopian Airlines crash in March, Norwegian announced plans to sue the manufacturer.
“We expect Boeing to take this bill,” the company told Reuters in an email statement. While this suit, along with many others, was filed in a Chicago court early in the year, the case has yet to reach a settlement or the mediation stage.
In May, Norwegian shareholders voted overwhelmingly in favour of financial restructuring to the company. Almost US$1 billion of debt has been converted into stock, meaning the majority of the company has now been handed over to creditors.
The company also announced plans just last week to reinstate short-haul routes across Scandinavia, after limiting its schedule to domestic flights over the last three months. Over the course of the coronavirus outbreak, Norwegian has had to ground roughly 95 per cent of its fleet due to the coronavirus pandemic.