Low cost airline easyJet, which operates 25 routes from Liverpool, says it is recovering strongly from the worst period in its history with capacity to return to pre-pandemic levels this year. Tony McDonough reports
Easyjet says it is in course to see capacity and passenger levels hit 2019 levels by the end of summer 2022.
In a trading update on Thursday the carrier, which operates 25 routes out of Liverpool John Lennon Airport, said flights and passenger numbers in the three months to December 31, 2021, almost quadruped compared to the same period in 2020.
The airline carried almost 12m passengers during the three-month period, the first quarter of its financial year. This compares to juts under 3m in the same quarter in 2021. Number of flights increase from more than 23m in 2021 to more than 85m in the latest quarter. Load factor, which is the percentage of seats filled, was also up to 77% from 66%.
Financial performance during the quarter was in line with management expectations despite the emergence if the COVID Omicron variant which saw tighter restrictions return in a number of countries, including the UK.
Total group revenue for the quarter ending December 31 increased to £805m against £165m in the same period of 2020. Passenger revenue increased to £547m from £118m and ancillary revenue increased to £258m from £47m.
In its trading statement easyJet said: “Following the UK Government’s announcement on January 5 to remove pre departure testing, easyJet has seen a sustained step change improvement in booking volumes.
“On January 24 easyJet welcomed the news that the UK will see restriction-free travel from February 11 which has provided a further boost to bookings which we expect will continue to have a positive impact on sales going forward.”
It adds that it currently has 67% of 2019 capacity on sale for the first three months of 2022. This will ramp up over the next few months with July, August and September set to see capacity to be close to pre-pandemic levels.
Johan Lundgren, easyJet chief executive said: “EasyJet produced a significant year-on-year improvement in the first quarter, despite the short-term impact of Omicron in December, halving losses and cash burn compared with Q1 21 alongside driving higher returns from ancillaries.
“During the pandemic, easyJet has transformed many areas of the business including optimising its network and flexibility and finding sustainable cost savings. This is helping partially offset inflationary pressure, while also step-changing ancillary revenue, which is delivering for us now.
“We see a strong summer ahead, with pent up demand that will see easyJet returning to near 2019 levels of capacity with UK beach and leisure routes performing particularly well. We remain confident that easyJet will continue to win customers and are excited about our plans for the summer.”