Norwegian to take first 787

Seattle
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Norwegian will take delivery of its first Boeing 787-8 as early as today, as airline executives meet with the airframer to complete the final paperwork in Seattle.

The aircraft (registration EI-LNA) is leased from International Lease Finance (ILFC) for 12 years and will be used on the airline's services between its Oslo base and both Bangkok Suvarnabhumi and New York's John F. Kennedy (JFK) airports.

"It's a big day for us," says Bjorn Kjos, chief executive of Norwegian, at an event in Seattle. "It's a real milestone in our history."

The aircraft will fly on routes in Europe initially and begin intercontinental services in August.

Norwegian anticipates taking three of the eight 787s that it has on order by the end of the year, says Kjos. Two are leased from ILFC and one will be owned by the airline.

The carrier anticipates taking four 787s in 2014 and one in 2015, he says.

Norwegian does not have any immediate plans to seek compensation from Boeing for the delivery delays of its 787s, says Kjos. The first aircraft was originally due in April before the global fleet of Dreamliners was grounded in January.

The airline was forced to launch its Bangkok and JFK services with Airbus A340-300s wet-leased from Portuguese operator HiFly.

"It cost us a fortune in fuel to fly the 340s compared to the Dreamliners," says Kjos. He adds that they may seek compensation once they calculate their losses.

"[The 787] opens the opportunity for sustained low-cost operations over long-range [routes]," says Henri Courpron, chief executive of ILFC, at the delivery event.

He and Kjos anticipate more low-cost long-haul services on Norwegian and other carriers as a result of the 787 and next generation of widebody twinjets.