UPDATE – Norwegian has signed a Letter of Intent with Air Lease Corporation (ALC) to lease an additional six Boeing MAX 8s ahead of this summer season. The airline confirms to AirInsight that the aircraft are the six MAX 8s that ALC had on lease to Flyr until the Norwegian carrier announced bankruptcy last week. Norwegian and ALC both benefit from MAX 8 lease contract.
The LoI is subject to final closing conditions, but Norwegian expects to add the MAX’s “good time ahead” of the summer season. This would solve another problem for the carrier, as it isn’t certain that Boeing will be able to deliver two MAX 8s that are contracted for delivery this spring due to the well-documented supply chain issues.
These MAX 8s are most likely also sourced from ALC as part of a long-term lease contract for three. The first aircraft was delivered in January, but Norwegian has also leased two MAX 8s from SKY Leasing that are still awaiting delivery. Two more have been leased from CCB Financial Leasing since December 2021.
Norwegian said in October in its Q3 results presentation that it had secured leases for eleven MAX 8s at competitive terms, which were scheduled for delivery ahead of the 2024 summer season. This would grow the fleet to 87 aircraft. From 2025 through 2028, the carrier should receive fifty MAX 8s that it ordered in May last year, plus thirty options. They would replace older 737-800s, so the net fleet size would remain around ninety aircraft and grow to 104 only in 2030 once Norwegian decides to convert the options into firm orders. Norwegian said it would finance the pre-delivery payments for the first of fifty MAX 8s from its own cash.
For ALC, it is a smart and quick move that the lessor has placed the six Flyr MAX 8s with another airline in the same country. ALC and Flyr signed a contract in late 2021 for the six aircraft plus four options that would be available for delivery this year. As reported, the airline announced last week that it had ceased operations after it had been unable to find underwriting for a rights issue. This left it critically short of cash.
With Boeing short on deliveries, it was never a question of ALC not succeeding in securing new customers for the MAX. The same happened last year when the sanctions on Russia left the lessor with seven Airbus A321neo’s that were supposed for S7 Siberia Airlines. They were placed on long-term leases with customers in Europe and North America. More recently, ALC placed five MAX 8s from Rumanian airline Blue Air with LOT Polish Airlines after the former hit trouble last year.
Active as a journalist since 1987, with a background in newspapers, magazines, and a regional news station, Richard has been covering commercial aviation on a freelance basis since late 2016.
Richard is contributing to AirInsight since December 2018. He also writes for Airliner World, Aviation News, Piloot & Vliegtuig, and Luchtvaartnieuws Magazine. Twitter: @rschuur_aero.