Bad summer proves good news for Jet2.com airline

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THE dire British summer weather boosted sales at leisure airline Jet2.com and package holiday operator Jet2holidays.

Jet2’s parent company Dart Group, which is based at Leeds Bradford airport, reported a 37 per cent rise in pre-tax profits to £57m for the six months to September 30.

The airline flew 400,000 more passengers, bringing the total passenger number to 3.6 million.

Turnover rose 31 per cent to £584.5m.

Dart’s chairman Philip Meeson said the rise in profits reflects a strong summer for Jet2.com, underpinned by growth at Jet2holidays.

“People want to go on holiday and we are providing great value package holidays and we fly to where people go to at the price people want to pay,” he said.

“Everyone wants to get out of the rainy North and into the sunshine.

“Holidays are very important to people and the package holiday is particularly welcome because it gives certainty of spend – we do the flight, transfer, hotel, food and drink.

“They know that everything is going to go well. We’ve worked hard to get the right product into the market.”

The leisure airline is focused on city breaks and sun destinations in the Mediterranean and the Canary Islands, which means the business is becoming increasingly seasonal as people take more holidays in spring and summer.

As a result higher losses are expected in the second half of the year, which covers October 2012 to March 2013.

In the six months to September 30, seat capacity increased by 11 per cent compared with the previous summer.

Net ticket yields rose from £52.63 to £59.81.

The growth of Jet2holidays accounted for over two thirds of the increase in Jet2.com passenger volumes.

Jet2.com’s profit margins were slightly ahead of the previous half year despite operating costs rising by 20 per cent. Costs were driven by higher fuel, maintenance and sub-charter costs, in addition to increased flying.

Retail sales per passenger rose to £30.77 during the half year following a push on pre-departure, in-flight and other sales. These range from an in-flight meal to an extra leg-room seat.

The company operated 44 aircraft over the summer from its eight Northern UK bases – Leeds Bradford, Manchester, Newcastle, Blackpool, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Belfast airports.

This winter Jet2.com has increased capacity by seven per cent following the introduction of additional services to the Canary Islands.

It has also added Grenoble as a new destination for ski-ing holidays.

It plans to expand capacity by a further 11 per cent next summer with extra services from all eight airports to support the growth of Jet2holidays.

In addition to its own passengers, Jet2.com also operates a charter operation providing whole aircraft charter flights for other tour operators and the UK Government.

It also flies 18 nightly services for the Royal Mail to ensure that first class post arrives on time.

In total, charter revenues rose four per cent in the first half of the year and it said forward passenger charter bookings for the key winter period are encouraging.

Jet2holidays carried 312,000 customers on package holidays in the half year.

Revenue increased by 117 per cent to £180.6m.

It said this large jump in revenue follows improvements to the Jet2holidays.com booking process and its ability to offer package holidays to existing airline destinations.

“Our great value all-inclusive holidays are ideally suited to the current difficult economic environment,” said Mr Meeson

Holiday packages include flights, transfers and accommodation and range from budget self catering to five star luxury hotels.

ros.snowdon@ypn.co.uk