The grounding of Boeing’s beleaguered 737 Max aircraft and issues with the Rolls-Royce engines on some of its other aircraft contributed to another full-year pre-tax loss at Norwegian last year.
However, Norwegian said its ongoing cost-saving measures – part of its planned transition from growth to profitability – helped it reduce its ongoing losses, which fell from from NOK 2.5 billion (£208 million) to NOK 1.7 billion (£141 million) during the 12 months to 31 December 2019.
Norwegian revealed the ongoing grounding of the 737 Max, which was pulled from service last March after two fatal crashes in just five months, contributed to a NOK 1 billion hit (£83 million) as Boeing’s efforts to fix a vital flight control system continue. The carrier has 18 Max aircraft in total.
Full-year revenue, meanwhile, came in up 8% at NOK 43.5 billion (£3.6 billion), and Norwegian said its cost-saving measures clawed back NOK 2.3 billion (£192 million) last year. These included cutting capacity by 1% and axing several routes; disposal of its holding in a Norwegian financial firm; and the sale of its Argentinian subsidiary to JetSmart Airlines.
The airline though plans to make further, deeper capacity cuts next year in an effort to turn a full-year profit for the first time since 2017. Norwegian will reduce capacity, measured in terms of available seat kilometres (the ratio of available seats to distance flown), by 13% to 15% next year, up from a previously forecast 10%.
Its guidance is based on the 737 Max returning to service in September. Boeing has set a "mid-2020" target for the Max’s return, although the US Federal Aviation Administration has said there is yet "no timescale" for the aircraft to resume operations.
Norwegian has another 92 Max aircraft on order, with negotiations over compensation from Boeing ongoing, according to Reuters.