Boeing (NYSE:BA) has another case of the bad news bears. Over the past few weeks, Norwegian Air Shuttle, the third-largest budget airline in Europe, has reported issues with both of the 787 Dreamliner aircraft in its fleet, which has resulted in temporary grounding.
The first was a a brake indicator issue that grounded one of the aircraft at Arlanda Airport north of Stockholm, Sweden, at the beginning of the month. Norwegian Air was forced to temporarily lease an aircraft from Boeing competitor Airbus to keep passengers moving.
The second was reported Monday. A Dreamliner scheduled to fly from Oslo, Norway, to Bangkok apparently experienced problems getting enough electricity from its power supply units and was unable to take off. Once again, Norwegian Air leased a plane from Airbus in order to move the passengers.
All things considered, the delays were relatively minor, and the first issue with the brakes has already been resolved. As with many other carriers that have experienced technical hiccups with the Dreamliner, Norwegian Air CEO Bjorn Kjos remains supportive of the company and the aircraft. Kjos told The Wall Street Journal in an interview Monday, before the Arlanda airport incident, “For us to succeed, it’s absolutely vital to keep a cost focus, and that takes things such as new fuel-efficient aircraft.”
One of the Dreamliner’s largest selling points, which has likely earned it much favor from airline executives, is that it consumes approximately 20 percent less fuel than other aircraft of the same size. Fuel is an enormous share of costs for airlines, and fuel costs have increased dramatically recently.
The success of the Dreamliner is critical for the company moving forward. Airline traffic is still growing in pretty much every corner of the world, but it is expected to grow most quickly in Asia, which means that is where most new demand will come from. The manufacturer expects China will need 5,580 planes, valued at $780 billion in total, in the next 20 years to support growing demand for travel and an eventual pickup in shipping. That projected addition represents a tripling of China’s fleet.