By Ole Petter Skonnord and Terje Solsvik
OSLO (Reuters) - Budget carrier Norwegian Air (OL:NWC) struggled to fill its aircraft in November as capacity growth far outpaced demand, its monthly traffic report showed, sending its shares down 6 percent in early trade.
The company, which has been courted by British Airways owner IAG (L:ICAG), has ramped up its transatlantic business but has also said that growth will slow as it prioritizes profitability over expansion.
"Several of our summer routes have been extended into November, which has affected the load factor," Chief Executive Bjoern Kjos said in a statement.
"A full transition into the winter program will take place early next year, once the busy holiday season is behind us."
While the airline's capacity grew 34 percent year-on-year in November, revenue-generating passenger kilometers increased by 26 percent, lagging a forecast of 33.7 percent in a Reuters poll of analysts.
The load factor, a measure of how many seats are sold on each flight, fell to 78.8 percent for the month, the lowest since May 2014. That fell short of a forecast of 82.7 percent and was down from 83.7 percent a year ago.
"Overall, we find the traffic figures to be soft," Danske Bank analyst Martin Stenshall said in a note to clients.
On the positive side, the company's November yield, a key measure of revenue per passenger carried and kilometers flown, was unchanged year on year at 0.33 Norwegian crowns. Analysts had expected it to ease to 0.32 crowns.
Norwegian's shares were down 5.7 percent lower at 201 Norwegian crowns at 0805 GMT, against a 1.1 percent drop for the Oslo benchmark index (OSEBX).
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