Norwegian Air Shuttle (NAS) today signed separate contracts with Airbus and Boeing covering a total of 222 new airplanes, including 100 Boeing MAX 8s, 22 Boeing 737-800NGs and 100 Airbus A320neos. Norwegian said the $21.6 billion worth of deals, which include purchase rights on another 100 MAX 8s and 50 Neos, will amount to the largest aircraft order in European history.
The agreements make NAS the European launch customer for the Boeing 737 MAX and a first-time Airbus customer. The new Airbus aircraft will feature a single class cabin layout, seating some 180 passengers. Norwegian plans to announce its engine choice for the Neos at a later date. Boeing offers only the CFM Leap 1B for the 737 MAX.
“Today is a historic day for Norwegian,” said Norwegian CEO Bjørn Kjos. “Norwegian has now reached a size where we will benefit from having two suppliers, both in terms of ensuring adequate flight capacity, flexibility and competition between two manufacturers,” said Kjos.
“International air traffic will keep on growing in the years ahead and Norwegian is determined to be a strong, stable and attractive player in the airline industry… As we intend to replace every aircraft after seven years of operation, it is mandatory that we plan at least 10 to 20 years ahead. We will sell or rent out our older aircraft in order to keep a young fleet.
“Norwegian’s order of 42 new Boeing 737-800 aircraft in 2007 was by many viewed as a bold investment. History has, however, shown that it was a necessary move to ensure our competitiveness and reduce costs. This order has been extended several times since 2007, proving that our need for aircraft has been far greater than we anticipated five years ago,” said Kjos.
The transaction means Norwegian holds orders, commitments and purchase rights for a total 427 airplanes, including 55 previously ordered Boeing 737-800s. It also holds a firm order for six 787-8 Dreamliners.