Norwegian Air CEO steps down

epa03077525 Bjoern Kjos, CEO of Norwegian Air Shuttle airline, smiles at a media conference in Oslo, 25 January 2012. Norway-based carrier Norwegian Air Shuttle on 25 January 2012 said it had inked a deal to buy 222 aircraft from rivals Boeing and Airbus for 127 billion kroner (21.5 billion dollars). The Boeing order comprised 100 planes of the new Boeing 737 MAX8 model and 22 Next-Generation 737-800 planes, Norwegian said, adding it had secured an option to buy an additional 100 MAX8 planes. Photo by Heiko Junge, Scanpix Norway EPA/HEIKO JUNGE

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Norwegian Air’s CEO  Bjoern Kjos stepped down on Thursday as chief executive of the airline he co-founded and turned into Europe’s third-biggest budget carrier by passenger numbers.

He will have a new role as an adviser to the chairman.

The airline also said it expected its 18 grounded Boeing 737 MAX aircraft to return to service in October, compared with its previous view that they would return to service in August.

The jets have been grounded worldwide since March following two fatal crashes and Norwegian Air has said the disruption could scupper its plans to return to profitability this year.

The airline has shaken up the long-haul market with cut-price transatlantic fares, but its rapid expansion has left it with hefty losses and high debts and it had to raise 3 billion crowns from shareholders earlier this year.

“I am way overdue,” Kjos, 72, laughing, told a news conference, announcing his plans to quit the top job. A former fighter pilot, Kjos helped to expand what was a tiny Norwegian airline housed in pre-fabricated barracks on the edge of Oslo airport.

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Via Reuters

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