EasyJet reports sharp fall in profits

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The Independent Travel

Budget airline easyJet PLC reported a 45 per cent drop in full-year profits today as higher fuel costs offset a strong gain in revenue.

Some of the accounts, however, were criticized by the company's founder and chairman, who said newly acquired assets were being overvalued.

For the year ending Sept. 30, the company reported a net profit of 83.2 million pounds ($123.5 million) compared to 152.3 million pounds in the previous year.

Revenue rose 31.5 per cent to 2.36 billion pounds ($3.5 billion) boosted by the acquisition of GB Airways in January and a 17 per cent gain in passenger numbers to 43.7 million. The load factor rose 0.4 per centage points to 84.1 per cent, the company said.

"We recognize that economic conditions will be very difficult and easyJet is planning accordingly, which means focusing on offering customers great value, driving down controllable costs and preserving cash," said Chief Executive Andy Harrison.

In a statement included with the earnings report, chairman Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou registered his disagreement with other management over the recent takeover of GB Airways and the valuation of aircraft and slots at Gatwick airport gained with the deal.

In both cases, Stelios said, he believed the value was worth less than the company's figure.

"I believe that with careful cash management and in particular more prudent capital expenditure, easyJet PLC and its shareholders will be the winners in European short-haul aviation," Stelios said. "We must focus on cash flows forecasts and not on carrying more passengers."

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