May 6, 2010 / 8:06 AM / 7 years ago

Norwegian Air says April passenger traffic down 8%

2 Min Read

* Says recovery in traffic slow after ash flight bans ended

* Says rebookings and reimbursements boost yield uncertainty

By Wojciech Moskwa

OSLO, May 6 (Reuters) - Budget airline Norwegian Air Shuttle (NWC.OL) said it carried 300,000 fewer passengers than forecast in April when 21 percent of its flights were cancelled because of volcanic ash clouds over Europe.

Norwegian Air said on Thursday it carried 791,000 passengers, 8 percent less than April 2009.

"The closure of European airspace had a multiplier effect... the recovery of passenger traffic was slow the first week of resumed operations, hampering the load factor.

"The nine-day disruption caused...an estimated 300,000 fewer passengers to fly with Norwegian compared to the forecast," said the airline, a rival of Scandinavian airline SAS (SAS.ST).

Total passenger traffic, measured by the number of passengers and kilometres flown (RPK), rose 1 percent on the back of a 5 percent rise in flying distance.

The yield -- the average revenue per passenger carried and kilometre flown -- was estimated at 0.51 Norwegian crowns in April, down 19 percent year-on-year.

"The yield was negatively affected by the closure of European airspace, and there is increased uncertainty related to the yield estimate from rebooking and ongoing reimbursement activities from a large number of cancelled flights," it said in its monthly traffic update.

The load factor, which measures seats sold as a percentage of capacity, fell in April by 8 percentage points from a year ago to 71 percent, the airline said.

Norwegian Air said it operated 79 percent of its 9,456 scheduled flights in April. (Reporting by Wojciech Moskwa; Editing by Dan Lalor)

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