Three weeks after diverting en route to Oslo, Norway from Dubai, U.A.E., a Norwegian Air Shuttle Boeing 737 MAX 8 is reportedly still unserviceable on the ground in Shiraz, Iran. The aircraft with 192 passengers and crew members undertook a ‘safety landing’ on December 14th due to engine problems. Those affected were overnighted in a hotel in the city, located 500 miles south of Tehran, and completed their journey the following day when a replacement aircraft arrived.
The Arab News reported on Friday that engineers who arrived on the replacement aircraft have been unable to repair the relatively new plane due to the non-availability of required parts. The lack of specific parts is reportedly due to the sanctions which the U.S. reimposed on Iran when the Trump administration withdrew from the nuclear treaty negotiated by the Obama administration.
The sanctions limit the transfer of goods and services to Iran and it appears aircraft engineering parts have been affected. A spokesperson for Norwegian has not confirmed these reports stating: “I can only say that we are working with several options to get the plane back on the wings, and right now we are waiting for our technicians to be able to service the plane and to get it working.”
Passengers affected by the diversion may be further impacted in the future with any planned travel to the U.S. Those wishing to visit the U.S. from countries on the U.S. visa waiver scheme may be exempt from the ESTA program and need to apply for visas given their (albeit brief) stay in Iran.
The continued presence of the 737 MAX 8 in Iran brings Norwegian’s troubles from 2018 into 2019. The airline has been the subject of intense speculation of takeover by International Airlines Group (IAG). The consortium which is the holding company for British Airways, Vueling, Iberia and Aer Lingus made two rejected bids for Norwegian last year. Norwegian lost US$137 million in 2017 and competitors expect a loss to be reported for 2018.
John is educated to postgraduate level achieving a masters degree with Distinction in Airline and Airport Management and has recently led an undergraduate Aviation Management course for 450 students at a leading London university. John is currently an external instructor for IATA (International Air Transport Association) and a member of the Heathrow Community Fund’s ‘Communities for Tomorrow’ panel.
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