One-off gains from a pensions shake-up helped profits at British Airways owner IAG double in the first half of the year but the airline operator warned air traffic control strikes in France were weighing on its finances.
IAG said that profits were up six per cent to €835m (£742m) for the six months to 30 June, but this came in slightly below the consensus forecast of €848m.
"Unfortunately, French air traffic control strikes continued to challenge our airlines' operations causing disruption to our customers", he said.
On 17 July, Level launched short-haul operations from Vienna, where it will eventually fly to 14 European destinations - including Gatwick - with four A321 aircraft. Norwegian said in May it had rebuffed two approaches from IAG. "Vueling was particularly affected and incurred an additional 20m of disruption costs in the quarter".
That growth in passenger numbers allowed IAG to swallow rising fuel costs - which were up 15% on a constant currency basis according to the group's results.
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"There are a lot of people who have said we're foolish to have any interest because Norwegian is likely to fail".
The long-haul fleet will grow to seven A330-200 aircraft in Paris and Barcelona next year. These strikes are also having a significant negative impact on the Spanish economy and tourism.
He added: "For now, the focus is on the cost base". "With IAG at the mercy of the ups and downs of the oil price, the most important metric is what IAG has rather clunkily named non-fuel operating costs". We believe in the model and we think we could make a success of Norwegian as part of the group - but we're not actually in discussions with them at the moment. "However, with the tailwind of low fuel prices fading fast, IAG will need this momentum to continue".
IAG acquired a 4.6 percent stake in struggling Norwegian in April with a view to starting takeover discussions, but made no mention of the rival airline at its second quarter results on Friday.