Norse Atlantic Airways has announced plans to sublease four of its B787 Dreamliner aircraft to Air Europa, as the transatlantic start-up carrier scales back its launch plans.

Norse Atlantic had planned to launch services this spring, with the first flights operating between Oslo and “selected cities in the US”.

But the airline has pushed this date back to June, citing events in Ukraine which “have resulted in increased fuel prices and uncertainties relating to travel demand”.

Norse Atlantic plans to eventually operate a fleet of 15 B787 aircraft previously flown by Norwegian, but confirmed that four of these are now “aircraft that we were not planning to fully utilize in our start-up phase”.

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Two B787-8s and two B787-9s will be delivered to Air Europa in the second quarter of this year, with the sublease contract set to last 18 months.

CEO Bjorn Tore Larsen said that the agreement provided “a compelling opportunity to generate positive cash flow” from the aircraft.

“The agreement strengthens our already solid financial position as we continue to stay true to our strategy of cautiously entering the market and ramping up based on customer demand,” said Larsen.

“We strongly believe that the demand for transatlantic travel will eventually bounce-back with full force because people will want to explore new destinations, visit friends and family and travel for business.

“Norse will be there to offer attractive and affordable flights on our more environmentally friendly and fuel-efficient Boeing 787 Dreamliners to both leisure and cost-conscious business travellers.”

Norse Atlantic’s initial route network is now expected to be announced this month, when ticket sales commence.

Launch routes are still expected to be between Norway and US, with flights to and from Paris and London planned “as soon as the market situation allows”.

The carrier recently confirmed that it had been awarded slots at Gatwick airport “at no cost”.

Norse Atlantic Airways secures Gatwick slots