Norwegian Air defies sector gloom with strong April data

Fri May 9, 2014 3:56am EDT

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OSLO, May 9 (Reuters) - Norwegian Air, Europe's
third-biggest budget carrier, reported improved traffic and
efficiency figures on Friday, indicating a recovery in its
performance after an especially difficult winter.
    Norwegian said its yield and load-factor figures, both
measures of its efficiency, jumped in April, despite a warning
by rival SAS that the market remained difficult.
    "The market has been looking for signs of a recovery and
stabilisation of yield, so this will probably get a positive
reaction," Tian Tollefsen, an analysts at SEB Enskilda, said. 
"These numbers were better than expected."
    Norwegian shares rose more than 3 percent by 0733 GMT,
making the stock one of the top gainers among the top stocks in
Oslo.
    SAS, which has been losing market share to Norwegian for
years, trimmed its full-year profit forecast on Thursday,
estimating competition in its home Scandinavian markets would
push down yields and cut around 1 billion Swedish crowns ($154
million) from pretax earnings.
    But Norwegian's yield, or average revenue per passenger
carried and kilometre flown, rose to 0.46 crowns in April from
0.40 crowns, despite downward pressure from an increase in its
long-haul operations.
    Its load factor, which indicates how successful it was in
filling seats, rose to almost 80 percent from 73.6 percent a
year earlier, though some of that was due to the timing of
Easter.
    Its total passenger traffic, or revenue passenger
kilometres, increased 49 percent, as the airline rapidly expands
both its long- and short-haul offering.
    Separately Finnair said its total traffic
increased 4.8 percent in April from a year earlier, while SAS
reported a 13.7 percent rise. 

 (Reporting by Joachim Dagenborg; Writing by Balazs Koranyi;
Editing by David Holmes)
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