EasyJet sees signs of recovery with travellers looking for winter sun

EasyJet has seen a jump in the number of passengers flying as lockdown restrictions eased but UK international travel continued to struggle, the company said.

Bosses at the airline said capacity is now expected to be up to 70% of 2019 levels over the winter months and 100,000 new seats have been added for travellers looking for some winter sun.

The plan to increase services comes as the company saw a marked shift in passenger numbers over the summer months, with capacity in the past three months hitting 58% of 2019 levels.

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This compared with just 17% of pre-pandemic levels in the three months to the end of June.

EasyJet has revealed it expects to record a pre-tax loss of between £1.14 billion and £1.18 billion as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic in the 12 months to the end of September.

The strong summer growth was driven by strong growth in domestic traffic in the UK and intra-European flying, however UK international travel remained low at just 32% of 2019 levels.

As a result of the difficult year just gone, bosses predict they will record a pre-tax loss of between £1.14 billion and £1.18 billion, which is slightly ahead of City expectations.

Looking forward, bosses said they see more holidays being booked as Covid-19 restrictions ease on international travel, with bookings over the next six months double those compared with a year ago.

Johan Lundgren, chief executive of easyJet, said: “During the quarter (July to end of September) easyJet significantly ramped up its flying which meant we were the second largest airline operating in Europe this summer.”

He added: “It is clear recovery is under way. Business travel is returning to easyJet with corporates and SMEs attracted by our value, network and approach to sustainability.

“We have seen city breaks beginning to return alongside growing demand for leisure travel from customers looking for flights and holidays to popular winter sun destinations including Egypt and Turkey.”

He added that October half-term bookings have been strong, particularly to the Canary Islands, which now has more seats flying there than before the pandemic.