Norwegian Air is making a cash call on investors for the second time this year as part of a switch in strategy from growth to profitability.
Europe’s third largest low cost airline is issuing up to 27.25 million new shares in a private placement as well as a $175 million bond issue.
The airline, a major player at Gatwick handling 4.6 million passengers a year, said: “After the completion of the transactions, Norwegian is fully funded through 2020 and beyond based on the current business plan.”
The move “will secure required financing of working capital during the winter season and create headroom to financial covenants while completing the strategic transformation of the company”.
Norwegian has faced financial turbulence from the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max and engine issues affecting its long-haul Boeing 787 Dreamliners, resulting in extra wet-lease costs of 1.5 billion Norwegian krone, acting CEO Geir Karlsen revealed.
He added: “Despite our actions showing good results to date, several external factors have impacted our liquidity position. The working capital has been negatively impacted by a reduction in credit card acquirer capacity.
“The actions we are now taking are necessary to create financial headroom to make sure that we have sufficient liquidity as we enter the next chapter of Norwegian.”
The latest financial measures follow a range of cost-cutting actions including a restructuring of aircraft orders, the sale of 24 aircraft and the creation of a joint venture with a Chinese leasing firm to cut capital outlay by NOK 13.7 billion between 2020 and 2023.
The airline made a previous private share placement in January and yesterday revealed that passenger numbers fell by 270,000 or 8% to 3.1 million year-on-year in October as the carrier adjusted capacity ahead of the winter low season.
This saw revenue rise in for the seventh consecutive month and was up by 6% on October last year.
Capacity growth was down by 5% and the load factor rose by 2.1 percentage points to 87.1% in line with a strategy of returning the carrier to profit.
But the use of wetlease aircraft in October due to the continued grounding of the Boeing 737 Max affected Norwegian’s on-time performance negatively.
The airline’s CO2 emissions were reduced by 8.5% over October 2018 at 67 grams per passenger kilometre – still above low cost rivals Ryanair at 66 grams and Wizz Air at 56.8 grams.
Norwegian Air said it had cut its per passenger emissions by 30% since 2008.
Karlsen said: “We are pleased that our unit revenue continued to increase in October, that our load factor is higher and that our punctuality is up.
“We have adjusted our route portfolio and capacity for the coming winter season to ensure that we are well positioned to meet the actual demand.
“The figures show that we continue to deliver on our strategy of moving from growth to profitability.”