Norwegian swings to $9.6 million second-quarter profit; leases additional 787

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Published: July 15, 2011

Norwegian Air Shuttle 737-800. Photo: Courtesy, Norwegian Air Shuttle.

Norwegian Air Shuttle, which is not leaving any doubt about its long-haul ambitions, signed a LOI Thursday with International Lease Finance Corp. for one more new Boeing 787-8 to increase its future fleet of the type to six. It also confirmed that “negotiations for further aircraft will continue.” The additional 787 is expected be delivered in early 2014; it is the third ILFC-leased 787.

Last year, Norwegian entered into a lease agreement for the delivery of two 787s in the fall 2012/winter 2013 ( ATW Daily News, Nov. 9, 2010 ). Last month at the Paris Air Show, the Oslo-based LCC finalized its contract to purchase three 787s that were initially ordered by Icelandair Group. Two of the aircraft are expected to be delivered during the first half of 2013 and the third aircraft in early 2015 ( ATW Daily News, June 22 ). “The aircraft type, which is the most cost efficient in its class, will provide Norwegian with a strong competitive advantage and the passengers with low fares to distant destinations outside Europe,” said CEO Bjorn Kjos.

Norwegian’s additional 787 order came on the heels of it posting strong second quarter results. A June quarter net profit of NOK53.7 million ($ 9.64 million) was reversed from a NOK134.4 million deficit in the year-ago period. Revenue for the quarter rose 34.1% year-over-year to NOK2.73 billion and operating expenses, excluding leasing and depreciation, increased by 26% to NOK2.38 billion. EBIT came in at NOK72.8 million, compared to a NOK92.8 million operating loss a year earlier.

Kjos said the second-quarter results were, “as expected, strongly affected by the high fuel price, which is almost 50% higher than the same period last year.” He added that he was “very pleased with the strong passenger growth.” He vowed to “keep a steady course toward lower costs and increased competitiveness.”

Passenger traffic climbed 29% to 4.32 billion RPKs on a 24% increase in ASKs to 5.52 billion, increasing load factor 3 points to 78%. Passenger numbers grew 26% to 4.04 million. Yield rose 5% to NOK0.55 while RASK was NOK0.43, up 9% from NOK0.39 in the year-ago period. Unit cost was flat at NOK0.52 and CASK ex-fuel was NOK0.32, 6% lower than NOK0.34 for the same period last year. The operator said RASK growth compared to last year partially reflects improved load factor, the closure of European airspace in April last year and an adjusted route portfolio.

For the 2011 first half, Norwegian reported a net loss of NOK239.5 million, reduced from a NOK333.6 million deficit in the year-ago period. First-half revenue was up 27.5 % to NOK4.62 billion on a 21% increase in passengers carried to 7.1 million.

As of June 30, Norwegian had 59 aircraft in its fleet, including 35 new 737-800s. So far this year, it has received 12 new -800s; three more will be delivered later this year. Older 737-300s are being phased out.

Entering the third quarter, the group said that demand and advance bookings have been “satisfactory” and that Wi-Fi equipment installation onboard its new 737-800s is proceeding as planned. It said 11aircraft will have Internet access this summer, and by the end of the year Wi-Fi equipment will be installed on 21 aircraft. Norwegian is maintaining its earlier guidance for full-year growth in ASKs of 25%, mainly from increasing its fleet by adding 737-800s.

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