(This Sept 4 story corrects to show 30 (not 33) 321LR planes on order in paragraphs 3 and 6.))
By Ole Petter Skonnord
OSLO (Reuters) - Norwegian Air (NWC.OL) expects to announce further aircraft sales by the end of the year including used Boeing 737s as well as some of the new Airbus planes it has on order to reduce it debt commitments.
Norwegian Air has committed to acquire 210 new aircraft from Boeing and Airbus by 2020.
“We have 90 neos (60 A320neo and 30 321LR) from Airbus on order. The Airbus 320neos are for all practical purposes for sale. We have started a process where we will try to find a new home for those aircraft,” Chief Financial Officer Geir Karlsen told an investor presentation on Tuesday.
“The problem is not to sell them ... but to get the price we want ... Hopefully by the end of the year we should be able to disclose news on a transaction,” Karlsen said.
By the end of the year, Karlsen estimated Norwegian Air’s fleet of more than 150 planes to rise to 164-165. Taken into account planned aircraft sales, he said he expected a net increase in the fleet of 30-40 new Boeing 737 MAX aircraft by 2022-2023.
Of its Airbus aircraft on order, 30 of them are Airbus 321LR(long range) neos, which could be kept, depending on traffic development in Argentina.
“We are pretty excited about what we are doing in Argentina and depending on how that goes we will decide on the solution on the Airbus 321 and will possibly move some of them to Argentina,” Karlsen said.
He said Norwegian Air started to sell tickets in Argentina on Tuesday on two routes linking Buenos Aires with Cordoba and Mendoza.
The first flight is planned in mid-October and the plan is to have 4 aircraft in Argentina by year-end.
“We will look at ticket sales before we decide what to do,” Karlsen said.
Last week Norwegian Air announced the sale of six used aircraft and said as many as 140 planes could be sold over time as a part of the renewal of its fleet and to help reduce debt.
Karlsen said sales of used aircraft would continue.
Such sales would “probably to be sold plus/minus book value as it looks now. Hopefully a little bit above,” Karlsen said.
Reporting by Ole Petter Skonnord; editing by Jason Neely