Low-cost carrier Norwegian today confirmed a series of unspecified cost cutting measures have been introduced.

Europe’s third largest budget carrier said action was being taken on the back of of a year of intensifying competition, high oil costs and “operational challenges”.

The airline, which added 25 new aircraft last year, also faced issues with Rolls Royce engines on its long range Boeing 787 Dreamliners.

Norwegian carried 37.34 million passengers in 2018, an increase of 13% over the previous year. The full-year load factor of 85.8% was down from 87.5% in 2017.

More than 2,000 new staff were recruited in 2018 as part of planned global expansion as the group started 35 new routes, including domestic flights in Argentina.

British Airways owner International Airlines Group took a stake in Norwegian last year but two takeover offers were rejected.

Norwegian’s December passenger numbers rose by 15% to 2.7 million.

Norwegian CEO Bjorn Kjos said today: “The 2018 traffic figures demonstrate that our international footprint continues to grow stronger, in line with the Norwegian Group’s strategy.

“The company has made considerable investments this year and will now enter a period of slower growth.

“We have adjusted and optimised our route portfolio and the capacity going forward. We have also made seasonal adjustments for the winter.

“Continued tough competition, high oil prices and operational challenges in 2018 combined with the issues with Rolls Royce engines, which have particularly affected our long-haul operations, have had an impact on our financial results in the latter half of 2018.

“We have launched a series of cost-reduction measures to boost our financials in 2019 which will have an immediate and continued positive influence throughout the year,” Kjos added.

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