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23 Mar 2018

BY Gary Noakes

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Norwegian heads to Chicago as it bolsters finances

Norwegian will this weekend commence its latest long-haul route, days after it issued a profits warning and raised new funds.

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Norwegian heads to Chicago as it bolsters finances

The budget carrier begins daily flights from Gatwick to Chicago on Sunday (March 25), offering one-way fares from £139.90. The year-round service will feature an expanded Premium cabin with 56 seats offering more than a metre of legroom.

 

Chicago’s launch will be followed on Tuesday (March 27) by the start of flights from Gatwick to Austin, which will break a European monopoly British Airways has on this route.

 

Norwegian’s chief commercial Officer Thomas Ramdahl said: “We’re delighted to unlock another key gateway to the USA by launching the UK’s cheapest nonstop flights to Chicago.

 

“Our daily flights to Chicago builds upon our expanding long-haul network at London Gatwick and our strong reputation for providing high quality flights to iconic destinations at great value.”

 

Earlier this week, the carrier raised £119 million by issuing new shares after warning that losses in the first three months of 2018 would rise to around £24 million, compared with around £16 million last year. Five short-haul aircraft are being sold, raising an estimated $15-20 million; while six long-haul aircraft will be sold and leased back.

 

Norwegian lost £27.4 million in 2017 and warned that a 12% higher than budgeted fuel price and “challenging weather conditions” would impact results in the first quarter of 2018. This year will see Norwegian expand capacity by 40% as nine Boeing 787 long-haul aircraft are added to the fleet by the summer.

 

The second half of the year will see only two 787s delivered, with a total of 30 in the fleet. The airline said its liquidity was “satisfactory” and that “net cash is increasing, driven by strong presales”. It added: “Hence, Norwegian sees no need for additional funding of working capital.”

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