Budget carrier Norwegian Air Shuttle said today it would reduce its unit cost next year compared with this year, hoping to reassure investors who had been worried by cost inflation at the company. 

Europe's third-largest budget airline by passenger numbers is already on a big expansion drive.

It said today it expected to grow its flight capacity by another 35% next year and presented third-quarter results below forecast. 

Norwegian has embarked on an ambitious growth plan, buying more than 200 new fuel-efficient jets, in order to try to grab a slice of the lucrative transatlantic market. 

Yet investors worry its drive to put more passengers on more planes has been pushing up costs quickly without producing higher returns. 

Next year Norwegian Air targets a unit cost of 0.38-0.39 crown, excluding depreciation, against 0.42 crown this year, it said today. 

It is also aiming for its available-seat-kilometres (ASK) - a measure of an airline's passenger carrier capacity - to grow by over a third next year as it puts more planes in service. 

Its third-quarter adjusted operating profit before leasing and depreciation (EBITDAR) was up 3.18 billion crowns from 2.57 billion a year ago, but below the average forecast in a Reuters poll of 3.63 billion crowns.