Low-cost carrier (LCC) Norwegian posted a first-half net loss of NOK411.9 million ($49.8 million), widened from a net loss of NOK54.7 million for the same period last year.

The fast-expanding carrier made a net profit of almost NOK1.1 billion for 2Q, compared to a profit of NOK745.4 million last time, but this year’s 2Q profit was canceled out by the hefty NOK1.5 billion deficit recorded in 1Q.

Revenue for the first half was up 12%, at just over NOK13 billion, compared to NOK11.6 billion last time.

Over the first half of the year, Norwegian carried almost 15.3 million passengers, up 13% on the 13.6 million carried over the same period in 2016.

Average sector length grew 6% to 1,519km, as more long-haul routes began to take off. The carrier plans to use its incoming fleet of Boeing 737 MAX 8s, with their longer range compared to its existing fleet of 737-800s, to inaugurate a series of transatlantic services between secondary airports. It also has a growing fleet of Boeing 787s for long-haul services.

Capacity for the first half jumped by 22%, to almost 32 billion ASKs. RPKs just failed to keep pace, rising 21% to 27.6 billion km.

As a result, load factor for the half-year was marginally down at 86.2%, compared to 86.6% last time.

Fuel consumption for the half-year also grew considerably compared to the same period last year, up 20% to 651,000 tonnes.

The results for 2Q were slightly down on last year, said Norwegian CEO Bjørn Kjos. While the continuing strength of the carrier’s load factor was satisfactory, he said, “We have had significant additional costs for leasing of aircraft, high oil price and the air passenger tax implemented by the government in Norway last year, which have had a negative impact on the result.”

However, he added, bookings for the coming months were “looking very good.” 

The company’s fleet is planned to grow rapidly throughout 2017, with 17 Boeing 737-800s, nine 787-9s and six MAX 8s scheduled to have arrived by year-end.

Additionally, three Airbus 320neos are scheduled to be delivered, which will be leased to Hong Kong carrier HK Express.

Norwegian says that it plans to have 21 Boeing 787s in its inventory by the end of 2017. However, the carrier noted it “may decide to adjust capacity in order to optimize the route portfolio, depending on the development in the overall economy and in the marketplace.”

Alan Dron alandron@adepteditorial.com