Friday, January 5, 2018

Norwegian hits highest annual passenger total for 2017

Scandinavian LCC Norwegian carried a record number of passengers in 2017 as it continued to step up its long-haul program. It also announced that it was better prepared to cope with traffic peaks in 2018 and would not be leasing in extra capacity.

Norwegian carried 33.15 million passengers in 2017, a rise of 3.8 million on 2016, the company announced Jan. 5. The launch of 54 new routes—mainly between Europe and the US—contributed considerably to the growth.

Load factor for 2017 was 87.5%, marginally down on 2016’s 87.7% figure, although the fleet grew substantially, with 32 new aircraft taken into the inventory over the year.

“Our Scandinavian operation is stable and positive, and we see that our long- and short-haul networks complement each other, consequently strengthening our competitiveness,” Norwegian CEO Bjørn Kjos said. “Our growing long-haul networks from the UK and Ireland continue to be well received by passengers, proving the demand for high-quality, affordable travel.”

Passenger figures for December 2017 continued the growth trend, with the company carrying 2.4 million passengers, up 12% from the same month in 2016. Both capacity growth (ASK) and traffic growth (RPK) were a substantial 32%. Load factor for the month was 84.6%, the same as December 2016.

Over the northern hemisphere winter months, Norwegian will again offer flights between the US east coast and the French Caribbean islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe, “enabling the company to achieve better fleet utilization in low season in Europe,” Kjos said.

His comments came 24 hours after Reuters reported he had told an Oslo press conference the airline was better-placed to handle 2018’s peak travel season than in previous years.

In 2017, the rapidly growing airline had incurred unforeseen leasing costs of around NOK1 billion ($124 million) after a spate of cancellations left passengers stranded in airports, he said.

Those problems, similar to those experienced by rival LCC Ryanair, led to a scramble by LCCs to recruit more senior pilots.

“We’re much better prepared entering 2018 than we were last year, and we won’t have to hire planes. We’ll be fully covered with crews,” Reuters reported Kjos as saying.

The company’s forward bookings were stronger than the same time last year, he added.

(Alan Dron - ATWOnline News)

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