Dart Group's profits fall in tough environment

DART Group, the owner of Jet2.com, today revealed that its half year profits fell by almost a quarter due to the tough trading environment.

In the half year ended September 30, turnover was 272.7m, compared to 272.8m in the same period last year.

Pre-tax profits fell 23 per cent to 28.1m, and underlying pre-tax profits also dropped by 23 per cent to 25.7m.

Philip Meeson, the company's chairman, said the performance was in line with expectations and reflects the tougher trading environment in the aviation business.

"Jet2.com, the group's leisure airline, was successful in maintaining load factors, but in part at the expense of yields."

In a statement, the company said Jet2.com had continued to focus on its core leisure routes from its bases in the North (Belfast, Blackpool, Edinburgh, Leeds Bradford, Manchester and Newcastle), while increasing its services to Eastern Mediterranean destinations.

The statement added: "We flew 2.2m scheduled passengers in the six months to September 30 2009 (2008: 2.3m) with the total number of routes served from all bases rising to 94 (2008: 75). We were able to increase load factors, partly at the expense of yields, by focusing on flying popular routes at departure times convenient to our customers.

"After a very strong performance in the previous year, our freight and passenger charter business experienced reduced revenues, reflecting a weaker market for charter services. In total, charter revenues were down 18 per cent in the first half. Pleasingly, however, on October 29 2009 Jet2.com was voted Passenger Airline of the Year by the Baltic Air Charter Association."

Mr Meeson added: "On an underlying basis, we expect full year trading to be in line with market expectations.

"Jet2.com forward booking levels are encouraging and Fowler Welch-Coolchain (the group's logistics company) continues to perform strongly.

"However, we expect the current challenging trading environment to remain for some time and we will continue to manage the business prudently, whilst continuing to take advantage of market opportunities."