EasyJet sees losses soaring on late Easter

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BUDGET airline EasyJet has warned its first-half losses would be sharply higher than a year ago because of the later arrival of Easter.

The carrier also said that tough competition, together with restrictions on travel to Egypt, had taken their toll on its performance during the final three months of 2013.

As a result, the Luton-based group expects to report a loss of between £70 million and £90m for the six months to the end of March, compared with the £61m loss it posted a year earlier.

Easter falls in April this year, but came at the end of March last year, boosting EasyJet’s revenues by £25m in the first half of 2013.

The airline also said yesterday that its first-quarter revenues grew 7.7 per cent to £897m, helped by a 4.2 per cent increase in passenger numbers to 14.3 million in the three months to the end of December.

EasyJet chief executive Carolyn McCall said: “The performance in the quarter demonstrates our continued focus on cost, progress against our strategic priorities and EasyJet’s structural advantage in the European short-haul market against both the legacy and low-cost competition.”

Richard Hunter, head of equities at Hargreaves Lansdown, said the trading update did not meet the “great expectations” that the carrier’s investors have come to expect, but added: “The fact remains that EasyJet has been a stunning success story.”

Despite the turbulence seen in the first half of the year, the City expects the airline’s annual pre-tax profits to rise about 14 per cent to £545m.