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Norwegian Cruise expects positive current quarter operating cash flow

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FILE PHOTO: U.S. Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings cruise ship Marina arrives at the Havana bay
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(Reuters) -Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd forecast operating cash flow to be positive for the current quarter on Tuesday, as the U.S. cruise operator benefits from higher on-board spending and prices with its full fleet back in service.

Shares of the company rose about 3% in early trade, as the company also said that booking trends remained strong despite a hit from Omicron variant of the coronavirus and the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

"We are seeing an explosive showing by consumers, particularly American consumers. Consumer spend is strong, snapping back and even exceeding where we left off in 2019," Chief Executive Officer Frank Del Rio said on a post-earnings call.

Norwegian Cruise, which saw about 60 cancellations or modifications to sailing due to the Russia-Ukraine war, said its booking momentum was temporarily disrupted due to the crisis, but added that the impact was "short-lived." It has also decided to remove all sailings to ports in Russia from its itineraries in 2023.

Over the past two years, cruise operators have been burning through their cash piles, as the pandemic brought the industry to a standstill. The company reported negative operating cash flow in the last few quarters, which turned slightly positive only in March.

Norwegian, which completed its phased restart of operations earlier this week with all of its ships returning to sail, said higher ticket prices and onboard revenue also helped the company see improved cash flow in the first quarter ended March 31.

However, the company still expects to post a net loss in the current quarter, as it accounted for higher costs including fuel expenses. Norwegian reported a fuel expense of $135.5 million for the first quarter.

The cruise operator also posted a bigger-than-expected loss of $1.82 per share for the reported quarter.

(Reporting by Ananya Mariam Rajesh in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli and Rashmi Aich)

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