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EasyJet Expects Summer Take-Off After Short-Term Omicron Hit

By Dave Simpson

Britain's easyJet has said that the easing of travel restrictions has spurred demand for summer beach destinations such as Greece, Turkey and Spain, giving the airline cause for optimism after the shadow of Omicron lifts.

Chief Executive Statements

Its chief executive, Johan Lundgren, said that bookings jumped in Britain when restrictions were reduced last month and were boosted again when the government said testing requirements would end in February.

He said that easyJet has seen similar trends across Europe, notably in France and Switzerland.

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"We see a strong summer ahead, with pent-up demand that will see easyJet returning to near 2019 levels of capacity with UK beach and leisure routes performing particularly well," he said.

Capacity And Load Factor

The airline flew 64% of pre-COVID-19 pandemic capacity in its first quarter to end-December, but its 77% load factor missed its forecast of over 80% after the new variant of COVID-19 dented demand in December.

Omicron will continue to have a short-term impact, it said, although it will ramp up capacity from approximately 50% of pre-pandemic levels in January to 67% for the second quarter.

In November, before the impact of Omicron was clear, easyJet had forecast capacity of approximately 70% for the quarter.

Shares

Shares in easyJet have risen 6% in the last 12 months.

Additional Chief Executive Statements

Lundgren, who bolstered easyJet's balance sheet with a £1.2 billion rights issue in September, said that unlike other airlines that are retrenching, easyJet is adding capacity.

He said that 1.1 million extra seats are on sale from its largest airport, London Gatwick, while it has launched 16 new routes from the UK and has added capacity to 30 destinations.

Total Group Revenue

Total group revenue for easyJet's first quarter to end-December increased to £805 million against £165 million a year ago, while its headline loss before tax for the quarter nearly halved to £213 million.

News by Reuters, edited by Hospitality Ireland. Click subscribe to sign up for the Hospitality Ireland print edition.

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