OSLO (Reuters) - Norwegian Air said on Thursday it had begun a process that could lead to cash dividend payments for shareholders as the carrier's second-quarter core operating profit rose amid strong demand for air travel in Europe.
Norwegian reported a profit before interest, tax, depreciation, amortisation and rent (EBITDAR) of 1.57 billion crowns for the April to June quarter, up from 93 million in the year-ago period.
"The summer season of 2023 will be one of the best in our history, and I am happy that forward bookings remain strong with business travel returning and others planning their autumn holidays," CEO Geir Karlsen said in a statement.
The airline saw a "historically strong" July, during its peak season, with total passenger traffic up 9% from last year, and unstable weather in the Nordics helped keep the booking momentum up in August, it said earlier this month.
Norwegian, which underwent a financial restructuring during the COVID pandemic, said on Thursday it plans to pay back some of its debt as the board looks to "enable ... a potential dividend distribution".
As part of this process, Norwegian said it would exercise an option to repay its NAS13 bond amounting to 750 million crowns.
The company did not say when dividend payments could potentially start.
Norwegian Air last month said it had agreed to buy privately held domestic peer Wideroe for 1.13 billion crowns, a deal that is currently under review by the Norwegian Competition Authority.
The company's April-June net profit fell to 538 million Norwegian crowns ($50.9 million) from a year-ago profit of 1.25 billion crowns which had been boosted by one-off factors.
($1 = 10.5683 Norwegian crowns)