EasyJet hails strong fourth quarter after strikes at rival airlines boost demand


Budget airline easyJet has hailed solid trading in the final quarter as demand was boosted by strikes at rivals Ryanair and British Airways.

It said it expects profit before tax for the year to September to be at the top end of company forecasts – between £420 million and £430 million.

EasyJet said it delivered an 8.6% surge in passenger numbers to 96 million for the year after it increased its capacity by more than 10%.

However, total revenue per seat slipped by around 2.7% as airlines pulled prices down due to heavy consolidation in the sector.

In the second half of the year, total revenue per seat only decreased by 0.8% as it benefited from increased demand due to the strikes by Ryanair and BA pilots.

EasyJet’s cost performance remained strong during the fourth quarter, despite “difficult disruption” in the sector during the period as tour operator Thomas Cook collapsed.

Rises in fuel costs, increased capacity and the weakness in the pound resulted in a 12% jump in the headline costs for the full year, the airline said.

EasyJet said cost-cutting initiatives were also a driving force behind its performance in the quarter which was affected by disruption, including storms across Europe and technical issues experienced at Gatwick Airport.

The airline said bookings for the first quarter of the 2020 full year are in line with expectations, while it expects capacity to be 2% higher than the same period in 2019.

Chief executive Johan Lundgren said: “EasyJet has continued to perform in line with expectations, despite challenging market conditions.

“As a result of our self-help initiatives and the increased demand due to disruption at British Airways and Ryanair, we anticipate achieving headline profit before tax for the full year 2019 of between £420 million and £430 million.

“We have continued to invest in operational resilience, with the programme successfully reducing the impact of disruption on our operations.”