Oslo-based Norwegian Air reported a huge loss for last year as expected on Thursday, and then suffered a bomb threat on one of its flights. The airline’s founder and CEO Bjørn Kjos called 2018 “a year with large and uncomfortably negative surprises,” but as more came at him, he seemed determined to turn losses into more profits this year.
Armed with fresh capital and a 13 percent increase in passengers in January, which is normally a quiet month, Kjos wants to put engine problems on the airline’s Dreamliners and losses on jet fuel contracts behind him. “We’re concentrating now on once again achieving profitability,” he told reporters and analysts when presenting the airline’s results for the fourth quarter and all of last year (external link to the airline’s results report). They included a year-end loss of NOK 1.45 billion (USD 170 million).
The loss had been predicted, and the airline already has announced cost cuts that will include closure of some bases and some route cancellations. It also has announced contracts to sell some of its aircraft and reported Thursday that it was delaying delivering of some of its new aircraft on order. The airline hopes to avoid layoffs, and was encouraged by a 23 percent increase in total revenues. The airline has also noted that it was entering a period with lower growth and fewer investments after years of major expansion.
Investors didn’t respond well to Kjos’ assessment, sending Norwegian Air’s stock down by another 5 percent by early Thursday afternoon.
Another “negative surprise” also came Thursday, when a Norwegian Boeing 737 flying from Stockholm to Nice returned to Arlanda Airport in Sweden after someone phoned in a bomb threat from Norway. Norwegian flight DY4321 had 163 passengers and six crew members on board, and Swedish newspaper Expressen reported that all were being evacuated after the aircraft landed and parked at an isolated area of the airport. Norwegian itself referred all inquiries to the police, claiming its “first priority” was the safety of its passengers and employees.