easyJet loses £3m per day – but boss sees sunnier skies ahead as fares rise

Flights for summer are selling at prices 15 per cent higher than in 2019

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Thursday 19 May 2022 11:43 BST
Ready to go? An easyJet aircraft in Rhodes
Ready to go? An easyJet aircraft in Rhodes (Getty Images)

Britain’s biggest budget airline, easyJet, lost £3m per day between October 2021 and March 2022. But its boss believes the carrier will be “a winner in the post pandemic recovery of European aviation”.

The half-year results for easyJet show a headline loss before tax of £545m, an improvement on the £701m lost in the corresponding six months in 2020-21.

The load factor – the proportion of seats filled – increased from 64 to 77 per cent. The carrier’s chief executive, Johan Lundgren, said: “EasyJet has reduced its losses year on year, at the better end of guidance.

“The pent-up demand and removal of travel restrictions provided for a strong and sustained recovery in trading which has been further boosted as result of our actions.

“These include the radical reallocation of aircraft which has seen more than 1.5 million seats moved to the best-performing markets.

“As we return to a more normal summer season, we are ready to capture the increased levels of demand right across our network.

“We are confident in our plans for summer which will see us reaching near 2019 flying levels and look forward to competing with our renewed strengths as a winner in the post pandemic recovery of European aviation.”

Tickets for July, August and September are being sold at levels 15 per cent higher than in 2019, the last pre-pandemic summer.

The airline expects to operate 97 per cent of its 2019 capacity in those summer months.

Its subsidiary, easyJet holidays, is predicted to carry over 1.1 million customers this financial year.

But easyJet is still cancelling upwards of 20 flights pre day because of resourcing issues.

Mr Lundgren told BBC Breakfast: “It is a challenging labour market. We’ve seen a shortage of staff in a number of airports. Not all in the UK, by the way.

“Those cancellations were done at the early part of April. The majority of the customers were rebooked into flights, usually within hours.

“We fly 250,000 passengers on a daily basis very much in line with the same on-time performance as 2019.”

The carrier is removing one row of seats from its smaller Airbus A319 aircraft to cut the seat capacity to 150, which reduces the number of cabin crew from four to three.

Meanwhile, passengers are still reporting being wrongly turned away because of the airline imposing incorrect policies on passport validity – even though easyJet aligned with European Commission rules in April.

While Mr Lundgren was speaking, Simon Eaton was at Liverpool John Lennon airport – where he says he was turned away from the 7am easyJet flight to the Algarve airport, where he was beginning a golfing weekend with friends.

His passport is valid for travel out to the European Union until 11 June 2022, for a stay of two months. He is now booked on a Ryanair flight to Dublin and onwards to Faro, which will get him to Portugal

The Independent has asked easyJet to comment on why he was denied boarding.

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