Norwegian Air expects Brexit vote to hit demand from some UK customers

A satellite antenna is seen on the roof of the Norwegian Airways Boening 737-800 at Berlin Schoenefeld Airport, Germany, April 2, 2015. REUTERS/Pawel Kopczynski/File Photo - RTX2AXOI

OSLO (Reuters) - Norwegian Air NWC.OL, Europe's third-largest budget airline by passenger numbers, expects Britain's vote to leave the European Union to hit demand from some British customers, its CEO said on Thursday.

“England has received a punch after Brexit. So one must expect that English retirees will have less money,” Chief Executive Officer Bjoern Kjos said in an interview on the sidelines of a quarterly results presentation.

“So this will hit the traffic to Spain (from Britain),” he said.

Norwegian Air flies to and from London’s Gatwick airport, Manchester, Birmingham and Edinburgh and serves a number of destinations in Spain.

It is also building up operations from Britain, which it hopes to use as a base for its transatlantic flights.

The British pound has fallen sharply in value against major currencies since the June 23 vote to leave the EU, eroding Britons’ purchasing power abroad.

In July, Norwegian Air had said it had not yet seen lower bookings as a result of the Brexit vote, noting that most of its passengers were holidaymakers, who had probably already made summer bookings by the time of the referendum.

European short-haul carriers have struggled in recent months with over-capacity and Britain's vote to leave the EU, with low-cost airlines Wizz Air WIZZ.L and easyJet EZJ.L both trimming their annual profit forecasts in recent weeks.

Wizz Air said on Thursday however it will open a new British base at London Luton.

Writing by Gwladys Fouche; Editing by Adrian Croft