UPDATE 1-Spain's Clickair scales back growth plans

Mon Jan 7, 2008 11:34am EST

(Adds sourcing from company spokesman)

MADRID Jan 7 (Reuters) - Spanish low-cost airline Clickair is scaling back its expansion plans because of price wars, high oil prices and difficult market conditions, a company spokesman said on Monday. The airline, in which Iberia IBLA.MC and four other shareholders each have a 20 percent stake, will add just one plane to its fleet of 23 jets this year, scaling back an original plan to introduce five, the spokesman said.

"It's a prudent approach to the environment likely over the next few months, and we're in a position to be able to scale our growth according to the conditions," he said.

He declined to comment on a report in newspaper Expansion that Clickair might not reach profitability until 2009, one year later than it forecast after starting operations in late 2006.

But he confirmed that average income per passenger was lower than expected in the second half of 2007. Nonetheless, Clickair flew 4.5 million passengers last year, in line with its expectations, and it plans to carry 7.2 million in 2008, he said.

The airline's rival Vueling VULG.MC had a turbulent 2007 -- its share price dived 73 percent over the year -- as fuel prices and a fierce price war on domestic routes forced it to issue two profit warnings and to overhaul senior management.

"The case of Vueling has weighed on (the minds) of all airline managers," Expansion quoted sources at Clickair as saying. (Reporting by Ben Harding and Jason Webb)

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