EasyJet has posted a first-half (six months to 31 March) pre-tax headline loss of £701 million, but is hopeful of a strong recovery from next month with the Covid crisis in mainland Europe expected to ease.
The airline’s passenger numbers fell 89% in H1 to just 4.1 million; it current expects to operate at around 15% of 2019 capacity in the third-quarter, but said it had flexibility to quickly put more flights on to capitalise on travel opportunities during the lucrative summer months of Q4.
EasyJet is expecting capacity to increase from June onwards as travel restrictions on the continent ease, although it said the constant chopping and changing of travel restrictions in response to incidence of Covid-19 infection would likely result in the airline operating with lower than optimal load factors.
"Late announcements of changes to travel restrictions will impact load factors due to late capacity additions/cancellations to meet surges in demand, driving an even later booking behaviour," said easyJet.
"We maintain significant flexibility to ramp capacity up or down quickly depending upon the unwinding of travel restrictions and expected demand, with the flexibility to maximise European opportunities.
"This ramp-up will involve increased variable costs during Q3 as we bring pilots and crew off furlough in readiness for the peak summer season in Q4. We remain focused on a disciplined schedule of cash generative flying."