Collapse of Monarch and Air Berlin and industrial action at rival Ryanair has helped the biggest carrier at Liverpool to grow passenger numbers for the year by 5.4% to 84.6m. Tony McDonough reports
Low-cost airline easyJet says it expects full year profits to come in at £570m to £580m – an increase of around 40% thanks to troubles among its rivals.
The biggest operator at Liverpool John Lennon Airport (LJLA) with 32 routes, easyJet has seen Monarch and Air Berlin go bust in the past 12 months and has benefited as its number one rival Ryanair continues to be dogged by industrial action.
It projected pre-tax profits for the year to September 30 at the upper range of City expectations but the carrier’s shares were subdued following the announcement as analysts expected flatter profits next year amid Brexit uncertainty and higher fuel costs.
Passenger numbers for the full year are expected to increase by 5.4% to 84.6m, driven by an expected increase in capacity of 4.2% to 90.3m seats. Load factor (percentage of seats filled) for the full year is expected to increase by one percentage point to 93.6%.
EasyJet’s total fuel cost for full year 2018 is expected to be just under £1.2bn, including an expected additional £15m cost compared to previous guidance as a result of a US dollar foreign exchange impact and carbon Emissions Trading System (ETS) costs.
The airline has continued to add routes to countries such as Turkey, Sicily and Croatia out of LJLA and earlier this year based it eight aircraft at the airport. A new route to Toulouse in France will take off on October 28.
Johan Lundgren, easyJet chief executive, said: “We now expect our headline profits for the year to be between £570m and £580m, at the top half of our guidance range. This has been achieved despite higher costs caused by disruption due to third party industrial action and severe weather.
“However, we have benefited from a number of one-off events in 2018, including the bankruptcies of Monarch and Air Berlin, as well as Ryanair cancellations.
“In the fourth quarter we made the decision to change our approach to technology development. Rather than a full replacement of our core commercial platform, we will be investing in better utilisation and development of existing systems on a modular basis.”