Jet2.com and Jet2holidays chairman Philip Meeson expects the airline and operator’s winter capacity to be half that of last year owing to the ongoing effects of the coronavirus crisis.
The business on Thursday (19 November) disclosed a pre-tax loss of £119.3 million for the six months to 30 September, down from a £337 million profit during the same period last year.
Operational profit, meanwhile, fell from £365.1 million to a £111.2 million loss during what Jet2 described as a period of "unprecedented operational and financial challenges" during which it was forced to ground much of its fleet from mid-March through to mid-July.
"Few could have foreseen the prolonged impact of the pandemic," said Meeson. "Jet2 plc has adapted quickly to the challenges by taking considered, but decisive actions to bolster liquidity, minimise losses and reduce cash burn."
Meeson said Jet2’s "disciplined approach" to flying capacity, which involved focusing on profitable routes and bringing them to market quickly when travel restrictions permitted, had allowed the business to deliver a better result than forecast back in mid-May.
Looking ahead to the winter, Meeson said he anticipated winter 2020/21 seat capacity would be approximately 50% less than winter 2019/20, adding with travel advice uncertain, forward bookings would likely continue to come with a "pronounced" shorter lead time than in previous years.
He added that while recent positive news of a potential Covid vaccine was welcome, Jet2 would continue to take a cautious approach to summer 2021 with seat capacity close to summer 2019 levels.