Norwegian Air Argentina's sole aircraft, 737-800 LV-HQH (c/n 42278/6347), reportedly departed Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) for Stockholm yesterday, 24Apr18. The editor of this blog has not been able to confirm this but even if the aircraft has not left Argentina yet, multiple reports have stated that it will do so imminently. Additionally, the process of cancelling the aircraft's Argentine registration is reportedly underway.
NAA Suspended ?
LV-HQH's sudden departure with apparently no plans for the aircraft's return to Argentina at a future date would suggest that Norwegian's plans for Norwegian Air Argentina might have been shelved but there are at least two possible explanations other than NAA's suspension.
Extra Capacity Needs during Northern Hemisphere Summer
Norwegian commented on the departure of LV-HQH that the carrier needs to add all available capacity during the European summer high season due to recent delays in the delivery of some 737 MAX 8's by Boeing.
Some media have also reported that Norwegian will likely need extra aircraft in Europe because of anticipated aircraft downtime due to engine issues with some of the 787's (Rolls-Royce powerplants) and 737-800's (possible CFM-56 inspections in the wake of the recent Southwest midair engine failure) belonging to Norwegian's various divisions.
Expensive Lease Payments
Another possible explanation is that the aircraft reportedly carries with it US$ 200,000 monthly lease payments, which is a lot of money for an aircraft that is only participating in NAA's bureaucratic start-up procedures, and even then only occasionally, while not producing any revenue.
Changing Aircraft Type to Airbus ?
Other reports suggest that Norwegian is analyzing using Airbus A320neo's or A321neo's for NAA's fleet but Norwegian does not operate nor have on order either type.
Some Argentina aviation blogs have expressed doubts that the removal of NAA's sole 737-800 signals the demise of the start-up carrier given Norwegian's substantial investment of time and money in the project so far, especially considering that there have been no other developments pointing to shutdown of the operation.
To review, LV-HQH arrived in Argentina in January 2018 and performed several flight trials for a start-up later this year by the carrier. The aircraft even participated in a ceremony with the King and Queen of Norway during their recent visit to Argentina. LV-HQH was based at Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) during its time in Argentina.
Norwegian Air UK's 787 service between Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) and London-Gatwick (LGW) is apparently not affected by the reported changes at NAA.