EasyJet has recorded a pre-tax loss for the six month period that ended on March 31.
Peak Summer Period
EasyJet said that it is poised to ramp up summer flight schedules with an easing of COVID-19 restrictions, but the low-cost airline warned that late announcement of travel rules reduced visibility as it recorded a wider half-year loss.
EasyJet said that it expects to operate approximately 15% of pre-COVID-19 crisis capacity in the current April-June quarter before returning furloughed crews for a much-anticipated summer surge.
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"We have the ability to flex up quickly to operate 90% of our current fleet over the peak summer period to match demand," easyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren said in the airline's results statement.
As the peak season approaches, travel firms are pushing governments to drop quarantines and other curbs for vaccinated passengers and lower-risk destinations.
Britain's "green list" of unrestricted countries is up for review in coming weeks, but the UK government has warned that the highly contagious COVID-19 variant first detected in India may yet slow the pace of reopening.
Pre-Tax Loss And Revenue Figures
EasyJet's pre-tax loss widened to £701 million during the six month period that ended on March 31 from £193 million in the year-earlier period, affected only partially by the pandemic. Revenue fell 90% to £240 million on a similarly sharp decline in passenger numbers to 4.1 million.
No Firm Capacity Plan For July-September Quarter
Underlining the summer doubts, the airline gave no firm capacity plan for its July-September fourth quarter.
"Given the continued level of short-term uncertainty it would not be appropriate to provide any further financial guidance," it said. The carrier said that its cost-cutting programme is on track to save £500 million this year.
EasyJet said that it added more than 105,000 seats - many to Portugal - within 24 hours of publication of the UK green list, which triggered a bookings spike.
"We know there is pent-up demand," Lundgren said.
Chairman To Step Down In May Of 2022
EasyJet has also announced that its chairman, John Barton, is preparing to step down once he has completed nine years in the post in May of 2022.
The company has already started the search for a successor.
Barton's plan to step down was first reported by Sky News. The airline, which noted that a nine-year term is the recommended maximum for best practice in corporate governance, said in an e-mailed statement that Barton remains fully committed to his role.
EasyJet said that it has hired an executive search agency to help find a successor and ensure an orderly transition.
All of the above news by Reuters, edited by Hospitality Ireland.
New Services From Belfast International Airport
In other easyJet news, the airline has added new services to Bournemouth, Iverness and Corfu from Belfast International Airport, from where it will have 17 services in rotation by next week and 29 by July, and it will have approximately 270 staff members based in Belfast International Airport this summer, as reported by The Irish News.
The Irish News quotes easyJet's UK country manager, Ali Gayward, as saying, "We're committed to our base at Belfast International, and what's really important is that we're able to ramp up our flying there, that's where the real opportunity is for us."
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