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Norwegian defends Dreamliner, low-cost staff

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CEO says nine out of ten Dreamliner seats filled

Norwegian says it filled nine out of ten seats on long-haul routes to the US and Thailand in 2013, despite delays and multiple faults on its Dreamliner planes.

In the company’s latest annual report published this week, Norwegian chief Bjørn Kjos said that demand had gone beyond expectations.

“The demand for a low-cost alternative to Southeast Asia and North America is clearly illustrated by load factors, which averaged 90% in 2013 – about 5 percentage points higher than we expected,” he wrote.

However, he added: “During the first months of operation, delays were inevitable and passengers flew more often on replacement aircraft than on the Dreamliner. This was not the product we wanted to offer to our passengers.”

The operation’s high start-up costs meant “it did not make a positive contribution to unit cost during the first year,” but with the Dreamliner aircraft now perfuming “beautifully” he plans to expand the airline’s next Dreamliner order from eight to 14, the last six of which will be the stretch 787-9 aircraft type.

He also defended a decision to recruit more staff from low-cost countries.

“Though Scandinavians are statistically among the most frequent travellers in the world, they are in limited supply. To maintain a competitive edge outside Scandinavia, expansion into new markets must be on a level playing field with incumbent airlines. Recruitment for new bases takes place locally to offer competitive and favourable local terms of employment.”

The Local

[pictured: Dreamliner; photo courtesy Norwegian]

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