Norwegian Air Passenger Numbers Rise on Long-Haul Push

Norwegian Air Shuttle AS flew 2 percent more passengers last year as the discount carrier extended its reach into long-haul flying.

The airline served 20.7 million travelers and filled 78.3 percent of available seats, a 0.1 percentage-point increase, the Fornebu, Norway-based company said in a statement today. Passenger numbers jumped 27 percent from a year earlier last month to 1.6 million.

“The increase in passenger traffic, production and passengers is primarily driven by the establishment of new European short-haul bases and long-haul operations to North America and Southeast Asia,” the airline said.

Norwegian Air fell 1 percent to 195.1 kroner in Oslo trading yesterday after Danske Bank analysts cut their recommendation on the stock to sell from hold, citing fare competition in Nordic markets, the cost of capturing market share in Europe and snags in adding Boeing Co.’s 787 Dreamliner to the fleet to build the long-distance route network.

The carrier began flying from Scandinavia to U.S. cities and Bangkok in 2013, and will connect London Gatwick Airport with New York, Los Angeles and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, starting in July.