Norwegian’s April traffic was boosted by a near week-long strike by SAS group pilots throughout Scandinavia, the airline has confirmed.
The low-cost carrier on Tuesday (7 May) hailed “positive” combined growth throughout March and April following this year’s comparatively late Easter.
In total, Norwegian carried more than 3.1 million passengers in April, a 3% increase on last year, albeit with Easter falling three weeks later.
Norwegian’s load factor, meanwhile, increased to 86.1%, up 3.1 percentage points year-on-year.
Total traffic grew 11% from 6.695 million to 7.457 million while capacity grew 7% from 8.063 million seats to 8.659 million.
The airline has consistently pledged since the start of the year to reduce capacity growth and focus instead on pursuing profitability.
“Easter traffic will always influence the figures positively,” said Norwegian. “This year, Easter was in April, which means that the revenue per available seat-kilometre compared to last year was higher. The combined March and April figures for 2019 compared to last year show an increased load factor of 1.8 percentage points and an increased yield of 6.9%.”
Norwegian also said demand was higher in the last week of April due to a “competitor’s pilot strike in Scandinavia”.
SAS group pilots staged a near week-long strike (26 April to 2 May) before a new pay and labour deal was agreed late on 2 May. The strike, said SAS, resulted in more than 4,000 flights being cancelled affecting the travel plans of 360,000 passengers.
Despite the airline’s Boeing 737 MAX aircraft remaining grounded, the passenger impact of which Norwegian said was "limited", Norwegian operated 98.9% of all scheduled flights, a decline of just 0.5 percentage points, while 83.4% of flights departed on time, an improvement of 2.1 percentage points year-on-year.