EasyJet to expand to meet ‘pent-up demand’

One of the two biggest carriers, along with Ryanair, at Liverpool John Lennon Airport, easyJet says it is ready to ‘significantly ramp up’ capacity to meet a surge in demand. Tony McDonough reports

Easyjet
Low cost airline easyJet is expecting a surge in bookings. Picture by Matt Alexander/PA Wire

 

Budget airline easyJet says it is ready to “significantly ramp up” its capacity to meet “pent-up” demand for air travel.

One of the two biggest carriers, along with Ryanair, at Liverpool John Lennon Airport, easyJet has revealed its results for the six months to March 31. It traditionally reports a loss for the winter period and, this year, the COVID-19 pandemic magnified the effect.

During the half-year period, passenger numbers plummeted by 89.4% to 4.1m. It flew 38.6m passenger in the corresponding period last year. Revenues fell 90% to £240m with passenger revenue decreasing by 91% to £170m and ancillary revenue decreasing by 87% to £70m.

Its headline loss before tax of was £701m, against a loss of £193m a year ago. This was within the guidance range of £690m to £730m. Easyjet says its balance sheet is “robust”. Total liquidity raised during the pandemic was £5.5bn which included aircraft sale and leasebacks. Its net debt stands at £2bn against £467m a year ago.

Earlier this week, Michael O’Leary, chief executive of Ryanair, said bookings have trebled since early April as countries in Europe, including the UK, started to ease their lockdowns and COVID-19 restrictions.

Johan Lundgren, easyJet chief executive said on Thursday: “With leisure travel taking off in the UK again earlier this week where we are the largest operator to Green list countries.

“And with so many European governments easing restrictions to open up travel again, we are ready to significantly ramp up our flying for the summer with a view to maximising the opportunities we see in Europe.

“We have the ability to flex up quickly to operate 90% of our current fleet over the peak summer period to match demand. We know there is pent-up demand – we saw this again when Green list countries were released and added more than 105,000 seats.”

Based on current travel restrictions in the markets in which its operates, easyJet expects to fly around 15% of 2019 capacity levels in its third quarter with an expectation that capacity levels will start to increase from June onwards.

Late announcements of changes to travel restrictions will impact load factors due to late capacity additions/cancellations to meet surges in demand, driving an even later booking behaviour.

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