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Norwegian Air aims to add nine aircraft ahead of 2024 high season

FILE PHOTO: Norwegian Air Sweden Boeing 737-800 plane SE-RRJ approaches Riga International Airport in Riga

OSLO (Reuters) - Norwegian Air said on Friday it hopes to grow its fleet by up to nine aircraft ahead of next year's holiday travel season in Europe, having had to fly with fewer-than-planned aircraft this year due to delivery problems at Boeing.

The budget airline will operate 81 aircraft during its peak months in June-August, having originally hoped to have four more, but the carrier will not replace these with so-called wet leases from other companies.

"For 2024 ... we will reach near 90 I hope, providing our friends at Boeing can deliver," CEO Geir Karlsen told Reuters on the sidelines of an earnings presentation.

Norwegian Air and the U.S. plane builder resolved a dispute a year ago, agreeing to a new deal over deliveries of 50 Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft to be delivered between 2025 and 2028, and secured options for a further 30.

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However, Boeing has had to halt deliveries due to a row over supplier quality problems.

"There will be delays, that is very certain," Karlsen said, adding the Oslo-based airline had as of now only received five out of the 15 it had on order from Boeing.

"We expect these delays to persist also into 2024 and maybe into 2025. But we will get some aircraft, of that I am certain," Karlsen said.

The company reported a first-quarter loss on Friday, and said strong booking numbers would give it a boost for the summer season.

(Reporting by Victoria Klesty, editing by Terje Solsvik, Robert Birsel)