LONDON – Following the decision to ground 18 of its Boeing 737MAX8 aircraft, Norwegian are the first carrier to speak out over seeking compensation for this disruption.
This grounding from the carrier came following the crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 last week, which killed all 157 people onboard.
Norwegian’s spokeswoman Tonje Naess confirmed this news to the Associated Press and was aggressive against Boeing on this.
She said that the airline “should not have any financial burden for a brand new aircraft that will not to be used.”
Norwegian’s CEO Bjorn Kjos has also spoken out on this, saying that “Our customers are our main priority now”, before apologising for the disruption caused.
Kjos also added that only 1% of capacity is from the 737MAX aircraft and that plans are in place to merge flights together and also relocate non-affected aircraft too.
The grounding was also in concurrence with directives published by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), which recommended such groundings.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has chosen not to ground the MAX aircraft in the United States.
It argued that its review “shows no systemic performance issues and provides no basis to order grounding for aircraft”.
It did say that “if any issues affecting the continued airworthiness of the aircraft are identified, the FAA will take immediate and appropriate action”.
No doubt that for other carriers with the same amount of MAXs as Norwegian or more will be following suit as this process goes on.
This is another hit for Boeing that will no doubt be expected. The manufacturer has lost over $35 billion in market capitalisation since the groundings and the Ethiopian incident.
Whilst the rest of the world has taken a proactive stance on these incidents, consisting of over 35 countries, the U.S & Canada will continue to operate the variants confidently.
This could be suggested as a very bold move because if this turns out to be the same problem as the likes of Lion Air Flight 610, then it is going to raise a lot of questions about airworthiness.
The MAX9 and MAX10 variants seem to be safe at this moment in time, with MAX10 design changes already been suggested and implemented before its entry into service in 2020.
Another issue that will arise out of this is the political implications ongoing. It has been reported that President Donald Trump met with Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg encouraging him not to ground the jet.
It will be interesting to see what the results of the recent crash will produce, but authorities are yet to decide where overseas the black box and voice recorders will be transported to.
For Norwegian and like with other carriers, it may have to charter other aircraft in to fill the gaps where appropriate, especially as its long-haul aircraft may not be able to be placed on short-haul given its busy itineraries.
Whilst it is unclear how much money Norwegian are suing for, it will probably be enough to both charter the aircraft needed but also ensure that its already negative financials are not affected further.