Holiday firm Jet2 is upbeat about post pandemic trading

Holiday firm Jet2 has announced an underlying £374m annual loss in a year of "unparalleled operational and financial challenges".

Jet2 said it is well placed for a strong recovery as lockdown restrictions are lifted

The Leeds-based firm said the impact of Covid-19 meant that the careful preservation of cash became a top priority and the board adapted quickly to the challenges by taking considered but decisive actions to minimise losses and reduce cash burn.

It quickly accessed £1bn of additional funding, primarily through shareholder and bank support, for which it said it was very grateful.

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The group said it is well placed for a strong recovery as lockdown restrictions are lifted.

Extensive international travel restrictions meant the firm's aircraft were fully grounded for 29 weeks of the financial year to March 31 and it operated a significantly reduced programme when flying was permitted.

Jet2 com flew a total of 1.32 million passengers, a decrease of 91 per cent on 2020.

Jet2holidays package holiday customers saw a decrease of 90 per cent.

The firm said: "We believe opportunities for financially strong, resilient and trusted operators will only increase bookings for summer 2022."

It added that package holiday bookings are displaying a materially higher mix of the total, which is encouraging and with the vaccination progress being made, it is optimistic that summer 2022 will be a considerable improvement on both summer 2020 and summer 2021.

"We are confident that once normality returns, our customers will be determined to enjoy the wonderful experience of a well-deserved Jet2 holiday and that and Jet2holidays will continue to have a thriving future, taking millions of UK holidaymakers annually, to the Mediterranean, the Canary Islands and to European Leisure Cities and that Jet2 plc will emerge from this crisis an even stronger company," the firm said.

Jet2's executive chairman, Philip Meeson, said: "When the financial year began, very few people could have foreseen the prolonged impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

"The pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on Jet2 plc and the leisure travel industry as a whole."

Jet2holidays is the UK’s largest package holiday operator to many Mediterranean and Canary Islands leisure destinations and is the UK’s third largest airline by number of passengers flown.

Jet2 said it took great pride in refunding customers promptly when their holidays or flights have unfortunately had to be cancelled, although many have opted to reschedule their bookings.

The group has processed over £1.4bn in refunds since the pandemic began, with its virtual contact centre, supported by its social media and customer service teams, working tirelessly in this regard.

Mr Meeson said: "We were duly recognised by both the UK Civil Aviation Authority, as the only UK airline to have been consistently processing cash refunds quickly, and Which? who said that 'Jet2 processed refunds without quibble when requested by customers'.

"We know that there is enormous pent-up demand for our holiday flights and ATOL protected package holidays and that customers want nothing more than to get away on one of the most important family experiences of the year," he added.

"We also know that in times of uncertainty customers look to operators they can trust and who offer them the best value for money.

"As a result of our unwavering focus to do what is right for our customers, we are confident that once normality returns, they will be even more determined to enjoy the wonderful experience of a well- deserved Jet2 holiday. We remain completely committed to doing our very best to ensure that when the time comes, each of our customers 'has a lovely holiday' that can be both eagerly anticipated and fondly remembered, supported by our core principles of being family friendly, offering value for money and giving a truly VIP customer service."

The group said it had to take some very difficult decisions and sadly, this meant it was necessary to make 546 valued colleagues redundant.