Struggling Norwegian lingers in the red, cuts capacity again

Struggling Norwegian lingers in the red, cuts capacity again
Photo: AFP
Troubled low-cost airline Norwegian Air Shuttle posted another loss in 2019 and announced Thursday it would cut its capacity further in a bid to turn a profit this year.

Norwegian ended 2019 in the red for the third straight year, deepening its net loss to 1.6 billion kroner (160 million euros, $173 million) from 1.5 billion in 2018, and failing to meet its target of making a profit.

The company, the third-largest low-cost airline in Europe, meanwhile saw sales grow by eight percent year-on-year, to 43.5 billion.

At 11:30 GMT, shares in Norwegian were down by 5.4 percent on the Oslo stock exchange. The company's shares have lost more than a third of their value over the past year.

Norwegian said it now hopes to return to the black this year, providing the Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft — of which it has 18 — is authorised to fly again in September.

The airliner has been grounded since March 2019 after two deadly crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia with different airlines that pointed to problems in its anti-stall system.

The grounding of the planes has cost Norwegian 1 billion kroner, it said.

The company, which also has orders for more 737 MAX aircraft, said it was in talks with Boeing regarding compensation.

The airline has also had problems with the Rolls-Royce engines on its Boeing 787 Dreamliners.

Norwegian cut capacity by 19 percent in the fourth quarter last year, and said it expected reductions of 13 to 15 percent this year, more than the previously announced 10 percent.

The cuts are the result of the technical problems affecting its fleet, as well as its change of strategy from aggressive expansion to profitability.

A pioneer in the long-haul low-cost sector, the company, which has been led by Jacob Schram since January 1st, has been weighed down by massive debts, requiring it to cut costs and increase margins.

In order to do so, it implemented a vast savings programme which enabled it to cut costs by 2.3 billion kroner last year.

It has negotiated a debt restructuring, raised money in a share issue, postponed the delivery of new aircraft, sold assets, and shuttered bases and routes, including several intercontinental routes and domestic flights in Argentina.

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