UPDATE 1-Norwegian Air orders new Dreamliners, targets fast expansion

Thu Feb 13, 2014 3:10am EST

* Q4 loss smaller than expected

* Acquired another four Dreamliners

* Aims for lower cost, fast growth in 2014

OSLO, Feb 13 (Reuters) - Norwegian Air, Europe's third-biggest budget airline, reported smaller-than-expected fourth-quarter losses on Thursday and said it ordered another four Boeing 787 Dreamliners as it expands its fledgling long-haul business.

Norwegian, which has opened bases in places like Britain and Spain, said it expected its available seat kilometres, a measure of its passenger carrying capacity, to increase by 40 percent in 2014 after a 32 percent rise in 2013.

Its shares rose 7.6 percent in early trade.

"Norwegian will continue to take advantage of its increasing competitive power realised through continuous cost efficiency, and from introducing larger aircraft," the company said.

"Going forward, the company expects increased competitive pressure in the Nordic market place."

The firm also signed a deal with International Lease Finance Corporation to acquire four Boeing 787-9s, a stretched version of the Dreamliner, bringing its total order of the jet to 14, of which three are in operation.

Norwegian became the only European budget airline to operate long-haul routes last year when it started flying to the United States and Bangkok. It now plans to take on one of the most competitive markets in the world with flights between London and New York later this year.

In 2014, the airline said it would continue to reduce costs, anticipating its cost per available seat kilometre, an indicator of its efficiency, to fall to 0.40 crown from 0.42 crown last year.

It recorded a pre-tax loss of 283 million crowns ($46.27 million) in the fourth quarter after a 23 million-crown profit a year earlier, beating expectations for a 356 million loss.

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