Airline warns of ‘challenging time’ because of Brexit
Norwegian, the troubled budget airline with a transatlantic network from Gatwick, lost an average of £266 per minute last year.
The carrier has reported a net loss of Nkr1,454m (£140m) for 2018. It blames intense competition, high fuel prices and issues with some of the Rolls-Royce engines fitted to its Boeing 787 fleet.
The share price lost around 2 per cent in early trading.
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But the airline said: “Norwegian has now reached an agreement with the engine manufacturer, which will have a positive effect in 2019.
“Going into 2019, Norwegian’s growth and investments will decrease considerably, and a series of initiatives have been undertaken to return to profitability this year.”
Norwegian warns: “The airline industry is undergoing a challenging time as a consequence of Brexit and strong competition.
“The company is working on contingency plans based on the different Brexit scenarios (including a hard Brexit).”
The airline carried 37 million passengers, at an average loss of £4 per person. The average load factor – the percentage of seats occupied by fare-paying passengers – dropped by 1.7 per cent.
A larger share of passengers claimed compensation under European rules for cancellations and delays.
The airline plans to cut costs and sell some aircraft. The chief executive, Bjørn Kjos, said: “We have optimised our base and route structure to streamline the operation as well as divested aircraft, postponed aircraft deliveries and not least started an internal cost reduction programme, which will boost our financials and bring us back to profitability.”
British Airways’ parent company, IAG, was seeking to buy Norwegian in 2018 but last month said it was no longer interested and would be selling its 4 per cent stake.
Norwegian said its Nkr3bn (£270m) rights issue to shore up its balance sheet had been fully underwritten. On Monday, its rival Ryanair said that Norwegian was “refinancing just to survive”.
Norwegian has more than 1,000 UK-based pilots and cabin crew.