OSLO, Norway — Norwegian Air Shuttle says its first-quarter revenues and earnings soared compared with a year ago thanks to a 23 percent jump in passenger numbers and a cost reduction program.

The fast-growing budget airline says that profit for the quarter more than doubled over the past year to reach 197 million kroner ($32.4 million), while sales jumped 27 percent to reach 4 billion kroner ($660 million).

Norwegian said Thursday that it handled 5.5 million passengers in the three-month period and the load factor was 77 percent, up one percentage point from the second quarter in 2012.

The low-cost airline, which is based in a suburb of Oslo, mainly flies in Europe but in recent months has launched long-distance flights to North America and Southeast Asia.