BUDGET carrier EasyJet has unveiled a sharp reduction in winter losses as capacity cuts by rivals and Britons fleeing the country’s deep freeze helped boost passenger numbers.
The airline carried 26.6 million people in the six months to 31 March, a rise of 5.3 per cent on the same period last year, as revenues surged by 9.3 per cent to £1.6 billion and losses narrowed by 46 per cent to £61 million.
While the tough consumer climate and rising costs forced competitors to cut their capacity by 2.8 per cent during the winter, EasyJet said its 3.3 per cent capacity increase to 30 million seats helped it to narrowly-beat City forecasts.
It expects more growth in its second half – when airlines traditionally make the bulk of their profits from holidaymakers.
Chief executive Carolyn McCall said the airline delivered a strong first-half performance, demonstrating the company’s “structural advantage” in the European short-haul market against both legacy and low-cost competition.
EasyJet has consistently beaten City expectations for profits but a long-running war of words with founder and major shareholder Sir Stelios Haji Ioannou has overshadowed its success.
Stelios, who earlier this year vowed to reduce his stake in the airline if the board ordered more planes, said yesterday’s results were the outcome of EasyJet selling six aircraft and adding only two to its fleet during the six-month period.
He said: “Good things happen to airlines that do not order more aircraft. A smaller fleet allows the airline to put up ticket prices. ”