EasyJet ramping up flight programme as demand recovers

EasyJet has said it expects to fly around 60% of its pre-pandemic flight programme over the summer quarter, up from 17% in the previous three months, thanks to the easing of travel restrictions and rising demand.

Library image of easyJet crew member

It said the reopening of travel in continental Europe and easing of restrictions for the fully vaccinated in the UK will drive a marked rebound in demand in its fourth quarter to September 30.

The carrier said it is boosting flights to 74 countries on the so-called amber list – such as Spain, Greece, Portugal and Cyprus – after the Government announced on July 8 that fully vaccinated passengers will be able to fly back from these countries without quarantine.

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It is also heavily focusing its schedule on continental European routes, with Europe having reopened its travel faster than the UK.

EasyJet said that, as a result, two-thirds of its bookings are now coming from Europe, compared with the usual 50-50 split.

EasyJet’s trading update for the three months to June 30 showed it narrowed headline pre-tax losses by 8.2% to £318.3 million, which was in line with its expectations, as cost-cutting helped limit the ongoing hit from the pandemic.

It saw passenger numbers rise to three million in the three months to June 30 against a lockdown-hit third quarter a year earlier, when its fleet had been grounded for all but two weeks, flying just 117,000 seats.

Revenues in the latest quarter rose to £212.9 million from just £7.2 million a year ago.

The group said its cash burn was reduced to £55 million, with cost-cutting on track to deliver around £500 million of savings over the full year.

It also paid out a further £122 million of customer refunds in the quarter, taking its total refund bill to £1.2 billion so far during the pandemic.

Chief executive Johan Lundgren said: “During this quarter we have successfully managed through the continued challenges of the pandemic, using our operational responsiveness to capture demand while focusing on cost control and minimising cash burn.

“So, while we know the road to recovery from the pandemic isn’t going to be a straight line, we are ready to compete using these new-found strengths with everything we have learned, leaving a long-term, positive imprint on the airline, transformed ready for the post-pandemic era.”