Allocated seating boosts easyJet revenue

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Easyjet’s allocated seating saw the budget carrier enjoy a surge in revenues as the number of passengers hit a record 12 million in the year to March.

Ticketed seating saw more suits, including MPs and bankers, switch from flying with flag-bearing airlines to FTSE 100-listed easyJet, with the budget carrier flying 8.5 per cent more business travellers in the first half of this year, ahead of overall passenger growth of 4 per cent.

Over the past four years, easyjet has ramped up its number of business fliers by 44 per cent.

Chief executive Carolyn McCall told the BBC that allocated seating had been “the single most popular thing we have ever done for our customers. It’s definitely taken a barrier away from people who would never have tried us before, particularly business travellers.”

Its popularity helped revenues surge 6 per cent to £1.7 billion, and the orange airline cut its dive into the red for the traditionally loss-making winter period to £53 million for the six months to end-March. That was lower than its £55 million to  £65 million prediction, and beat City expectations.

The rise in ticket sales came despite the half-year period not including the benefit of the Easter holidays, which fell in April in 2014 but a month earlier in 2013.

As Heathrow and Gatwick set out their plans for runway expansion in the south-east to the Government’s Airports Commission, McCall warned the issue should not become a “political football”. “There is a particular crunch in London that tends to be around Heathrow,” she added.

The airline is planning on flying almost 7 per cent more seats this summer, with about half already reserved. However, shares in easyJet sunk almost 4 per cent, or 65.6p, to 1664.5p.

Gert Zonneveld, transport analyst at Panmure Gordon, said that was just a brief hiatus. “We remain hugely optimistic about the long-term prospects of this business,” he said.