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EasyJet pre-tax losses deepen on sterling hit and Easter timing

Low-cost airline easyJet slumped into a half-year loss of £236m despite boasting a record number of passengers, hit by the later timing of Easter and currency pressures from the weaker pound.

The FTSE 100 airline reported a worsening of its pre-tax losses in the six months to the end of March, compared to a £18m loss in the same period last year, while headline losses also deepened by £191m to £212m.

Revenues over the period inched up by 3.2 per cent with total passenger levels also hitting new records to 33.8m – a climb of 9 per cent.

Load factor – a key metric for airlines that measures the proportion of seats filled – rose by 0.5 percentage points to 90.2 per cent.

Carolyn McCall, chief executive, said the losses were in line with market expectations and “reflects the movement of Easter into the second half as well as currency effects which together had an estimated impact of circa £127m on the bottom line”.

Earlier this year, shares in easyJet plunged as much as 9 per cent after it reported worse-than-expected hit from the pound’s post-Brexit decline. EasyJet makes just under half of its revenues in sterling.

“Looking ahead, we are seeing an improving revenue per seat trend as well as the continued reduction of competitor capacity growth. Cost performance for the full year will continue to be strong”, said Ms McCall.