EasyJet will extend connections to long-haul flights across half its network this year as it reaches the 90 million-passenger milestone.
In a trading statement, chief executive Johan Lundgren said Worldwide by easyJet, which offers connections to long-haul flights such as those operated by Norwegian, would cover “around half” of easyJet’s network this year. Passenger numbers would leap from 80 million to 90 million, he said, following the acquisition of Air Berlin’s operation at Berlin Tegel airport, while the easyJet fleet was set to reach 300 aircraft by the spring.
“There’s a lot to look forward to,” he said. Lundgren added that the airline had seen a “strong start” in the first quarter of its financial year. In the three months to December 31, passenger numbers rose 8% to 18.8 million and seats flown were up 5.5%. Load factors rose 2.1 percentage points to 92.1%.
A significant rise in ancillary revenue of 20.4% brought in £226 million, while passenger revenue generally was up 13% to £914 million.
Looking ahead, easyJet estimates that at current exchange rates and with fuel remaining within the current trading range, its fuel bill for the first half of the financial year is likely to fall by £60-£65 million. In addition, exchange rate movements will add £5 million to the bottom line.
The airline said costs associated with Brexit plans had now totalled £1 million, principally due to the cost of registration of aircraft in Austria. The airline now has 29 aircraft registered on easyJet Europe’ s AOC out of a planned 110.
EasyJet also confirmed the departure of chief commercial officer Peter Duffy. Duffy was thought to have been a rival for the top job taken by Lundgren when former chief executive Carolyn McCall quit to head ITV.