Easyjet's strong Easter helps raise profits projection
EasyJet, which flies to 28 destinations from Belfast International, has upgraded its annual profit forecast after a good Easter boosted third-quarter revenues. The budget airline reported a 16% rise in sales to £1.39bn in the three months to June 30, with passenger numbers increasing by 10.8% to 22.3m.
As a result, easyJet said full-year pre-tax profits are expected to come in between £380m and £420m, up from earlier forecasts.
Chief executive Carolyn McCall, who will leave the company to take the top job at ITV in January, said: "Our purposeful and disciplined growth continues to strengthen our market positions and we are seeing an underlying improving revenue trend.
"Although we expect capacity to continue to put pressure on yields, our progress this year has enabled us to upgrade this year's profit-before-tax forecast and demonstrates that, after a difficult 18 months of external challenges, easyJet once again has positive momentum."
However, profits will still come in below last year's £495m, when the firm was stung by the plunging pound.
Ms McCall leaves the low-cost carrier at a difficult time for the sector in the UK with Brexit storm clouds gathering over the travel industry.
The pound's collapse has meant fewer people travelling overseas and, more starkly, British airlines are at risk of being grounded unless Tory ministers strike an aviation deal with the EU before March 2019.
To mitigate the impact, easyJet last week confirmed that it has applied for a new air operator's certificate (AOC) in Austria to allow it to continue flying in the European Union after Britain's divorce from the bloc. Shares in easyJet fell over 5% to 1,343p in morning trading yesterday.
Nicholas Hyett, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: "The problem is that easyJet is struggling to get its new passengers to pay the same as the old ones did."