UK: Budget airline easyJet on course to cut first-half loss

Carolyn McCall, chief executive of easyJet

Carolyn McCall, chief executive of easyJet - Credit: PA

A SURGE in Easter bookings as Britons escaped the freezing weather helped budget airline easyJet deliver more strong trading figures today.

The group’s loss for the seasonally quieter first half is now expected to be between £60million and £65m, compared with £112m at last year’s half-way stage and its January forecast of between £50m and £75m.

Revenues per seat for the half year grew by around 8.5%, in part due to stronger than anticipated late bookings in the run up to Easter, helping of off-set the impact of rising fuel costs and the weaker pound.

Chief executive Carolyn McCall said the poor weather across the UK and northern Europe stimulated bookings towards the end of the half year, while the airline also benefited from winter capacity cuts by rival airlines.

She added: “Easyjet’s performance over the first half reflects the continuing successful delivery of our strategy of low fares, coupled with friendly service on Europe’s leading network.”

The company, which joined the FTSE 100 index last month after its share price more than doubled in two years,, has benefited from the launch of allocated seating, which helped it attract 10 million business passengers last year.

It has consistently beaten City expectations for profits but a long-running war of words with founder and major shareholder Sir Stelios Haji Ioannou has overshadowed some of its recent success.