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EasyJet Ready For Brexit As Summer Bookings Rise

By Dave Simpson

Uncertainty about Brexit negotiations are not hurting sales at easyJet, CEO Johan Lundgren said this week, adding that the British budget airline is well-prepared should the UK leave the European Union without a deal next March.

Bookings for around that time have not seen any drop-off and those for next summer are slightly ahead of summer sales a year ago, Lundgren said.

"There doesn't seem to be any concern for people to book their holidays and go away for next summer," easyJet CEO Johan Lundgren told the BBC.

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"We've been preparing ourselves for the past two years for any scenario, a deal or a no deal," he added.

As well as setting up a new airline in Austria, Lundgren said that by the time the UK leaves the EU next year, easyJet aims to have over 50% of its shareholders from outside the UK and from other EU countries, up from 47% currently, to enable it to comply with EU rules.

"What me and Andrew (Findlay, CFO) are going to do right now after today is continue to go and see European shareholders and talk to them about the story of easyJet," he said.

EasyJet Pulls Ahead

That story has over the last year has been one of easyJet outperforming its rivals.

The airline reported a 41% jump in annual profit on Tuesday November 20, helped in part by the collapse of smaller rival Monarch and cancellations and strikes at Ryanair, which last month issued a profit warning.

Signalling its confidence in its future performance, easyJet lifted its full-year payout by 43%, despite turbulence in the wider industry.

Over 2018, higher oil prices have pushed some smaller European airlines, Cyprus's Cobalt Air and Denmark-based Primera Air, out of business, while British regional carrier Flybe has put itself up for sale after warning on profit.

Lundgren said that easyJet was always looking for strategic opportunities but Flybe was not currently one of them.

"We have no interest in Flybe at the moment," he told reporters, adding that easyJet had a strong balance sheet.

"We're well-hedged and in a stronger position than others to mitigate the higher fuel price environment," he said.

Despite last year's performance and its confidence on summer 2019 bookings,easyJet stuck to a forecast for first-half revenue per seat to fall by low to mid-single digits.

"easyJet has made significant preparations for Brexit but overall the market faces uncertainties on higher fuel costs and a likely pick-up in increased competitor capacity," said aviation consultant John Strickland.

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

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Enjoy full access to Hospitality Ireland, our weekly email news digest, all website and app content, and every digital issue.
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Enjoy full access to Hospitality Ireland, our weekly email news digest, all website and app content, and every digital issue.
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