Norwegian to lease other long-haul jets if 787s delayed

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Scandinavian budget carrier Norwegian is intending to lease other aircraft types to commence operations to long-haul destinations, having been warned that its Boeing 787 deliveries could be delayed.

Norwegian had been planning to start services to New York and Bangkok, initially using a pair of 787-8s from International Lease Finance.

But the airline says Boeing has notified the carrier of a "possible delay" to deliveries following the grounding of the 787 over investigations into on-board battery problems.

Norwegian was to receive its first 787 in late April - ahead of starting services in May - and the carrier says a second delivery, scheduled for June, might also be affected.

"In the event that the 787 is not operational in time for Norwegian's services to New York and Bangkok, replacement long-haul aircraft will be leased to ensure that flights are operated as planned," says the airline.

It says these other long-haul types will be leased for up to three months. But the airline has not yet selected a leasing partner.

"As one of Boeing's biggest customers in Europe, we expect that the aircraft manufacturer does everything in its power to get the aircraft ready for delivery as soon as possible," says Norwegian chief Bjorn Kjos.

Boeing has not given Norwegian a new delivery date, the carrier adds, or written confirmation of a delay.

"Although a potential delay is completely out of our control we would like to apologise in advance if the [787] isn't ready for Norwegian's first long-haul flights," adds Kjos.

Norwegian has eight 787s on order. Its delivery schedule includes a third arriving in November 2013, with four more entering the fleet in 2014 and the last in 2015.