Norwegian Air Shuttle AOC (DY, Oslo Gardermoen) CEO Geir Karlsen has again signalled that the low-cost carrier is considering adding Boeing’s B737-10 MAX model to its fleet, having found that the soon-to-be-launched stretched narrowbody's range may be better suited to the airline than previously thought.

Speaking in an earnings call in which Norwegian reported “strong results in the second quarter 2023,” Karlsen reminded that a rejigged order with the US manufacturer means that Norwegian currently has an order for fifty B737-8 MAX jets with options for another 30 at an undisclosed price. The options could be used to bring in the MAX 10.

Delays at Boeing “are getting shorter” so that “we have taken quite a few MAX over the last months and the fleet today consists of 16 MAX [and] we are starting to build the fleet of MAX and it’s going to be increasing rapidly throughout the rest of this year and through 2024,” he said.

“We also have an option to have a look at the MAX 10, and we are actually doing that as we speak. We were kind of negative towards the MAX 10 six months ago, partly because of the range these aircraft can fly in the network we are flying. Based on new information we have received, that has changed to some extent, so we are seriously evaluating now whether we should bring the MAX 10 into our fleet,” he continued.

“A MAX 10 in a Norwegian configuration will have approximately 225 seats. And on the basis of a good price that we obviously need to negotiate, this is something that we are considering. [...] The seat cost will obviously go down, also of course depending on the price of the aircraft,” he elaborated.

Karlsen said during a previous earnings call a year ago that Norwegian was contemplating adding the MAX 10 to its fleet. The aircraft type was launched at the Paris Air Show in 2017 but has not yet entered into commercial operation.

Quizzed on the routes Norwegian could deploy the MAX 10 on, Karlsen said that “the load factor in November and December today is low, as expected. But September, October - what we have been slightly concerned about is, for example, to fly with 225 passengers from Oslo Gardermoen to Tenerife, for example, or to the Canaries, is that range possible? We think it is today. We didn’t think that six months ago. But with the new information, we think that is probably possible. Can you fly from Helsinki to Canaries? Maybe, maybe not. And then you have the big destinations down in, for example, Spain, Malaga, which, obviously, could fit for an aircraft like that.”

He added: “And then, we are opening up a base in Riga next year. That’s the first step kind of out of the Nordics. Again, we did plan to do that in 2022, but because of the delays from Boeing, we didn’t. So next year, it’s a plan.”