Norwegian lifts Q3 pre-tax profits to $152m

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Low-cost carrier Norwegian posted an improved pre-tax profit of NKr873 million ($152 million) for the three months ending September off the back of revenues up a quarter over the same period in 2011.

The fast-growing Scandinavian carrier says the third quarter pre-tax profit, up NKr187 million on the same stage last year, marks its best quarterly result.

Norwegian's passenger traffic grew 17% for the quarter, just shy of the additional 20% capacity. As a result, load factor was two points down for the third quarter at 82%.

Turnover grew 25% to NKr4.22 billion and unit revenues for the quarter increased as yields grew despite longer sector lengths and lower load factors.

The airline's operating costs rose 44% to NKr3.13 billion in the period, reflecting increased capacity and the impact of the appreciation of the US dollar against the Norwegian Krone.

While earnings before financial items and tax (EBIT) were down just over NKr200 million at NKr708 million, Norwegian's net profit for the three months ending September grew over NKr130 million to NKr 628 million.

"We are very pleased with our best ever result," says Norwegian chief executive Bjorn Kjos. "The figures also show that the growth has been well adapted to the market demand. The load factor is high and the growth in passenger traffic is very good."

The airline expects to raise capacity 18% for the full year as it continues to increase its fleet of larger Boeing 737-800s and by around 20% next year, though it adds this is dependent on market developments.