EasyJet soars above airports' turbulence


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The Independent Online

EasyJet battled through the turbulence of strikes and fire to impress the City as holidaymakers fled to the sun.

The budget airline has been buffeted by French air traffic control strikes and a fire at Rome’s Fiumicino airport, which led to 1,463 flights being cancelled between April and June – more than twice as many as last year.

The FTSE 100 airline, led by Carolyn McCall, also voiced worries over an “uncertain” climate, with Greece’s debt woes and the potential impact of the terror attack in Tunisia. But demand for flights on European beach routes and within the UK was strong, sending EasyJet’s shares up nearly 5 per cent to 1,748p.

The company said the disruption had not had as big an impact as feared on revenues per seat, which fell 2.8 per cent. Profits for the year to September will be between £620m and £660m, broadly in line with City hopes and better than last year’s £581m.

EasyJet flies from airports including Manchester and Stansted, whose parent company, Manchester Airports Group (MAG), warned that the latter airport could be full by 2030, when it will need a second runway.  Following the Airport Commission’s decision to back a third runway at Heathrow, MAG’s boss Charlie Cornish said: “The Government needs to take the debate beyond Heathrow and Gatwick … We need better rail connections between Stansted and London, and to look at transport infrastructure around other regional UK airports.”

Passenger numbers at MAG, which also owns East Midland and Bournemouth airports, rose 10.7 per cent to 48.5 million in the year to 31 March; growth at Stansted and Manchester exceeded that of Heathrow and Gatwick combined.