Stansted: easyJet posts reduced winter losses

LOW-cost airline easyJet posted a reduced winter loss yesterday as the benefit of benign weather offset a further jump in fuel costs.

The Luton-based operator, which is Europe’s fourth-biggest short-haul carrier with a market share of around 8%, said losses during the six months to March 31 were �112 million, an improvement of �41 million on a year ago.

While trading conditions remain “extremely difficult”, easyJet said a mild winter and minimal external industrial action meant the number of cancellations and overnight delays were down 90% on a year earlier, saving �15 million.

The number of passengers flown by the airline, which is a major operator out of Stansted and has also introduces services from Southend Airport, rose 5.4% to 25.2 million in the half year as it benefited from rivals cutting capacity and some such as Spanair and Malev going out of business.

The price of jet fuel was 21% higher in the half year, adding �87 million to costs, and is expected to show a further sharp rise over the second half.

The airline said its “Europe by easyJet” marketing campaign, improvements to its website and efforts to attract more business passengers helped revenues per seat increase 11.9% on a year earlier.

First bag revenues rose by 63p on a year earlier to �4.77 per seat, while fees and administration charges were up by �1.77 to �7.02 a seat.

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Numis Securities analyst Wyn Ellis said the airline was emerging as a “very clear winner” in the aviation market in Europe.

He added: “We continue to be impressed with easyJet’s operational and financial performance in a difficult market environment.”