EasyJet predicted a quick recovery in time for summer, as travel restrictions are relaxed following the warning of a harsh winter due to the Omicron coronavirus variant.
The low-cost airline has reported a “sustained step change improvement” in discussions in the UK following this month’s relaxation of travel rules, saying it will return to near 2019 pre-pandemic flight capacity by the summer.
Johan Lundgren, easyJet’s CEO, said he expected “a strong summer ahead”, and that UK ticket sales to beach and leisure destinations were particularly strong.
The warning of a difficult few months followed by a speedy recovery reflected the prospects low cost competitors Wizz Air earlier this week, and came when countries across Europe rolled back travel rules.
For the first time since spring 2020, EasyJet has started receiving more bookings from British passengers than from mainland Europe thanks to eased travel restrictions, Lundgren said.
As France, Switzerland and other European countries also reduce border rules, “we believe that testing for travel over our network should soon become a thing of the past. . . and has many reasons to be optimistic for the year ahead, ”he added.
EasyJet flew 64 percent of 2019’s flight schedules in the last three months of last year, lower than the 70 percent it predicted before Omicron appeared, the group said in a trading statement.
Its planes were 77 percent full, again lower than forecast, which pinned the airline on late changes to bookings in December due to last-minute travel restrictions.
The airline’s capacity will drop to 50 percent from normal levels this month, but he predicts it will increase as the quarter continues.
EasyJet did not provide financial guidance for the current quarter, but has 67 percent of 2019 capacity for sale this quarter.
“We see the focus this term and next as the ramp to a very positive outlook for the summer,” said Mark Simpson, an aviation analyst at Goodbody.
The company’s loss before tax for the last quarter of last year was £ 213 million, about half of the £ 423 million loss it reported in the same period in 2020.
Costs rose from £ 588 million to £ 1.02 billion as the airline operated almost four times as many flights and passenger numbers rose from 2.9 million to 11.9 million.
Cash brand dropped from £ 969m to £ 450m, and the company reported cash and cash equivalents of £ 2.9bn after a £ 1.2bn rights issue in September.
Shares were steady at 639.05p in early trading, in line with many other major travel stocks.