The CEO of budget carrier Norwegian Air, under pressure to staff its fleet as it ramps up transatlantic business, said on Thursday summer bookings are good and it has "more than enough" pilots to cover the season.
The company, which has been courted by British Airways owner IAG, struggled last summer to have enough pilots on duty and had to lease extra planes and staff that weighed on its bottom line.
"We have more than enough pilots this year and we have hired many pilots that we have trained up. We are very well covered for the summer," CEO Bjoern Kjos said in an interview with Reuters. Asked whether bookings for the busy summer season were strong, Kjos said: "Yes."
Norwegian Air shares rose after the comments. They were up 6.5% to 280 crowns compared to a decline of 0.3% in the Oslo Bourse share main index.
Ryanair last year approached Norwegian with a proposal to take a stake of around 20% in the Oslo-listed carrier, a source with close knowledge of the discussion separately told Reuters.
Europe's largest and third-largest low-cost airlines respectively, Ryanair and Norwegian compete for passengers as well as pilots and crews across the continent.
Kjos said there had been contact between the companies, but declined to discuss any details.
"I can confirm that Ryanair has shown interest in Norwegian Air, and that I brought it up with the board," he said.
A spokesman for the Dublin-based Ryanair said the airline does not comment on rumor or speculation.
IAG last month disclosed it had bought a 4.6% stake in Norwegian, but the budget carrier later said it had rejected two takeover proposals.
"What the shareholders should think of is that we are in the initial phase of harvesting significant value following a strong expansion. Our growth will begin to level off in the autumn," Kjos said.
He declined to say if there had been any more contact with IAG. (Reuters)