December 6, 2018 / 7:41 AM / in 9 days

Norwegian Air struggles to fill planes amid fleet growth

OSLO, Dec 6 (Reuters) - Budget carrier Norwegian Air struggled to fill its aircraft in November as capacity growth far outpaced demand, its monthly traffic report showed on Thursday.

“Several of our summer routes have been extended into November, which has affected the load factor,” Chief Executive Bjoern Kjos said in a statement.

“A full transition into the winter program will take place early next year, once the busy holiday season is behind us,” he added.

The company, which has been courted by British Airways owner IAG, has been ramping up its transatlantic business, but has said its growth will slow down as it prioritises profitability over expansion.

While the airline’s capacity grew 34 percent year-on-year in November, its revenue-generating passenger kilometres increased 26 percent, lagging a forecast of 33.7 percent in a Reuters poll of analysts.

The load factor, a measure of how many seats are sold on each flight, fell to 78.8 percent for the month, lagging a forecast of 82.7 percent and down from 83.7 percent a year ago.

“Overall, we find the traffic figures to be soft,” Danske Bank analyst Martin Stenshall said in a note to clients.

On the positive side, the company’s November yield, a key measure of revenues per passenger carried and kilometres flown, was unchanged year-on-year at 0.33 Norwegian crowns, while analysts on average had expected it would ease to 0.32 crowns. (Reporting by Terje Solsvik and Ole Petter Skonnord; Editing by Mark Potter)

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