The Hurtigruten corporation reported net income before taxes of NOK 26 million on revenues of NOK 1.1 billion for the second quarter of 2008, compared to NOK 102 million on revenues of NOK 1.1 billion last year.

The company posted a loss of NOK 186 million before taxes for the first six months of this year, compared to a loss of NOK 34 million for the same period last year.

For the first six months of 2008, the Hurtigruten coastal service generated NOK 122.8 million in earnings before interest, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA), compared to NOK 146.7 million last year.  Ticket revenues and onboard sales were both up 5 percent.

Hurtigruten is also in discussions with the Norwegian government to increase the support it receives for public transportation services in Norway. The present agreement stipulates payment of NOK 260 million a year for Hurtigruten to provide cargo services north of Tromso and daily transportation services between Bergen and Kirkenes. The problem is, according to Norwegian press reports, that Hurtigruten’s costs to provide the services exceed the contract payments. The present agreement runs through 2012.

Passenger Traffic

Passenger traffic was up for the winter and spring for the first six months of 2008, but down for the summer season, which is typically the strongest months of the year for Hurtigruten.

Cruises to Spitzbergen and Greenland also showed growth, but Antarctica cruises declined, and Hurtigruten concluded that the market cannot support two of its ships. In addition, it is too costly to transport ships between the hemispheres, the company said in its second quarter earnings statement.

The exploration cruises generated NOK 26.9 million EBITDA for the first six months of this year, compared NOK 56 million last year.

As of August 2008, 44 percent of the passengers were Germans; 12 percent from Norway; 11 percent from the UK; 10 percent from the U.S.; 5 percent from France; 4 percent from Sweden; 4 percent from Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg; 3 percent from Switzerland; 3 percent from Denmark; and the balance from other countries. In an effort to improve its results, Hurtigruten has initated a series of initatives to sell businesses it does not consider to be core to its interests, including hotels and travel agencies.

Hurtigruten has 13 coastal/cruise vessels, 11 of which are deployed in Norway and two sail expedition voyages. The company also has 34 ferries, 19 fast passenger vessels and 300 busses.