Jet2 chairman Meeson backs “fantastic” HS2

Philip Meeson, chairman of the Dart Group
Philip Meeson, chairman of the Dart Group
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AVIATION ENTREPRENEUR Philip Meeson has declared his “absolute” support for the controversial HS2 project.

The chairman of Dart Group said the proposed high-speed rail link between London and the North is “fantastic”.

Mr Meeson told The Yorkshire Post: “One of the best arguments is that people once thought the M25 was unneeded and ahead of its time.

“Not many people can see that far into the future. But travel increases in line with GDP, certainly in aviation and I’m sure that train journeys are the same.”

The Jet2 owner yesterday updated on trading and said pre-tax profitability for the year ending March 31 2014 will be in line with current market expectations.

The leisure airline, package holidays, and distribution and logistics group said cash flow generation from operations remains healthy and during the period the group has continued to invest for future growth.

Mr Meeson said Dart has created 400 new jobs over the last six months, including 200 new cabin staff, 100 extra pilots and 50 new ground engineers.

He added that the Leeds-based group will take on a “tremendous amount” of new staff for the summer in ground operations and for looking after people.

Mr Meeson said Jet2holidays will take more than one million people on holiday this coming year, up from 800,000 last year and 400,000 the year before.

“That shows we have the right product at the right time,” he added. The group said overall forward booking levels for Jet2.com, the leisure airline, are “encouraging”, with more than 50 per cent of summer 2014 already sold.

Fowler Welch, the distribution and logistics provider, remains well placed for profitable growth in the year ahead, added the group.

Mr Meeson said the Canary Islands, Majorca, the Spanish coast, Turkey and Greece remain popular destinations.

He said the most popular is probably Palma, the capital of Majorca.

“People always want to go to the Mediterranean. It is just two and a half hours down the road and there is a guaranteed welcome. People know it and trust it,” he said.

Asked about consumer confidence, Mr Meeson said disposable income remains very tight for the man in the street, despite the increase in employment and low inflation.

“It is going to take some time before people feel the benefits of the recovery,” he added.

Revenues for the six months ending September 2013 soared by 35 per cent to £787m, while pre-tax profits rose by 37 per cent to £78.1m.

The group has said its leisure travel operations are becoming increasingly seasonal.