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UPDATE 1-Norwegian Air slashed November traffic to stem losses

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OSLO, Dec 5 (Reuters) – Budget carrier Norwegian Air sharply curtailed its flight programme last month, removing unprofitable routes in a bid to stem the company’s losses, its traffic report showed on Thursday.

The airline’s overall capacity, a measure of distance flown and the number of seats available (ASK), declined by 27% year-on-year, it said. Analysts in a Reuters poll had on average expected a 23% fall.

The move allowed Norwegian to better fill remaining flights, raising the number of seats sold on each aircraft and boosting its yield – income per passenger carried and kilometre flown – by 12% to 0.37 crown, beating a 0.35 crown forecast.

Norwegian has shaken up the transatlantic travel market with low fares, but breakneck expansion also brought mounting debts and losses, and in November the company raised cash from its owners for a third time in 20 months.

The company on average filled 83.0% of seats in November, up from 78.8% last year and beating an average forecast of 82.3% in the Reuters poll.

“The planned capacity reduction has improved the figures … we continue to deliver on our strategy of moving from growth to profitability,” Norwegian’s acting Chief Executive Geir Karlsen said in a statement. (Reporting by Terje Solsvik, editing by Gwladys Fouche)

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