Norwegian struggles on, Virgin bargain, GOL & American fly MAX

The sun is slowly setting on Norwegian

The basket case that is Norwegian has managed to persuade a judge in the Republic of Ireland to grant it protection from its creditors under the republics Examiner laws, which act much as a Chapter 11 process does in the US. The UK doesn’t have a process like this, and companies enter Administration, where an outside agency is brought in to run the company while its viability is examined and they sell it on for peanuts, or its allowed to simply wind up and its assets sold. There is no doubt that in UK law Norwegian would have been shuttered.

The judge was persuaded by lawyers that the company could find a way out back to profitability, but to all intents and purposes, this is simply postponing the inevitable. Norwegians management cannot be trusted to carry out any plan. They promised shareholders just months ago they would follow a plan to profitability through Covid, and then didn’t follow it. Before that they promised a restructuring, and before that they promised a revolution in the way the company operated. None of it has ever worked, or been properly followed through on because they just don’t have the skill and the company structure is just not designed to function like an airline.

When the opaque wooden dollar structure of the Norwegian group started to come unravelled the fact is, it was like a load of spinning plates and management at the top ran around making sure each one just about stayed spinning, but it got too much and they came crashing down. This is just another bump in the road to its eventual extinction. At best the branding rights will end up being sold off, hopefully to someone who knows how to run an airline starting genuinely afresh.

Virgin Atlantic’s bargain A350-1000

Virgin Atlantic have always been rather good and grabbing bargains, be they from Boeing or Airbus, and the company is about to take delivery of G-VDOT, an A350-1000.

In the days of the 747-400 Richard Branson struck deals with Boeing to take on aircraft originally intended for Alitalia, and late model 747-200’s nobody wanted right back in the early 1984.

The trend carried on with Airbus, with the airline taking Airbus A340-300 test aircraft G-VHOL Jet Streamer and G-VSEA Plain Sailing in 1997. However they were some of the least economical with the older engine and left service in 2011.

F-WWXL is now G-VDOT

There wasn’t a deal to be had with the 787-9’s and all were built new, as were the A333’s. The airline scooped up 4 A330-200’s from the demise of AirBerlin to make up for the 787-9 groundings caused by Rolls Royce engine problems.

This time G-VDOT named ‘Ruby Slipper’ (DOT=Dorothy, as in The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy wore Ruby Slippers, which are so famous they’re in the Smithsonian permanent display in Washington DC), is the latest bargain. Originally flown back on 10 January 2017 as F-WWXL MSN 071, she conducted over 160 flights for Airbus as it certified the A35K. Now she’s been fully re-painted and fitted out as a Virgin Atlantic aircraft – Qatar have also taken previous demonstrators. Estimates are that the discount on aircraft like this are as high as 30%, so it’s a big saving. She was formerly delivered back on September 4th and arrived in Manchester September 9th where she’s been stored. She finally positioned to Heathrow to be readied for service entry on Nov 30th, although almost certainly only for cargo operations short term, some Christmas passenger use is expected.

GOL To resume 737 MAX flights on December 9

LCC GOL, having received Brazil’s recertification for the MAX has announced it will re-start operations with its aircraft from December 9th, with all 7 of the existing fleet said to be due back in service by the end of December.

American Airlines flies passengers on a MAX

OK, they were all mostly journalists and happy for the story in these Covid times, but they were crammed into a MAX and flown about to demonstrate its safety to the press. Customers will be boarding soon, and the airline says that at least for the foreseeable future, passengers will not be made to fly on it and it will be clear when booking that it is a MAX aircraft. What they didn’t say was if they were using the MAX word or just sliding it in as a 737-8.

Either way, there were a surprisingly large number of detractors, adamant that the aircraft is never going to be safe because its was fundamentally flawed from day one. Others say its now been so thoroughly tested and reviewed that its possibly the safest aircraft ever built. Well I’ve made my choice. I will never be experiencing the 737 in any format MAX, -7, -8, -9, -10, -200.

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