Norwegian Air execs met with Airbus to discuss jet technology, memo shows

·2 min read

By Victoria Klesty

OSLO, Jan 26 (Reuters) - Top executives of Norwegian Air , which flies a Boeing-only fleet, met with a sales team from rival aircraft maker Airbus this week, according to an internal Norwegian memo seen by Reuters and confirmed by a company spokesperson.

The budget carrier, which today operates around 50 Boeing 737 aircraft, said in October it had agreed to lease up to 13 more 737-800 NG aircraft ahead of the 2022 European summer season.

However, it added that some of the leased aircraft can be substituted for "new technology narrow-body aircraft from either Boeing or Airbus", the two main competitors in the commercial aircraft market for decades.

"I can confirm that there has been a recent dialogue between Airbus and representatives of Norwegian's corporate management," the spokesperson for the airline said on Wednesday, while declining to elaborate.

Should Norwegian switch to Airbus, it would be the first time it has non-Boeing aircraft in its fleet, with implications for the organisation, such as re-training crew.

The memo cited Tore Jenssen, head of the airline's fleet company Arctic Aviation Assets, saying Norwegian and Airbus had been discussing the latest developments in aircraft technology. Chief Executive Geir Karlsen was also present at the meeting.

Norwegian emerged from government-backed bankruptcy proceedings in May last year but is still locked in a dispute with Boeing over the cancellation of orders for 97 aircraft, which is to be decided in U.S. legal proceedings.

A deal with Airbus would not be Norwegian's first, however. It signed a agreement in 2012 to buy 100 jets with options for a further 50 but only took delivery of a fraction of the order before it was forced to restructure. The planes were leased to other carriers and the Airbus contract terminated as part of the restructuring.

Jenssen acknowledged the company's long history with Airbus and was quoted as saying: "We look to operate a modern fleet fit for a more sustainable future." (Reporting by Victoria Klesty, editing by Terje Solsvik, Kirsten Donovan)

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