Belfast Telegraph

EasyJet eyes big jump in profits

Budget airline easyJet delivered more profit cheer as it hailed a strong summer for bookings despite Britain basking in one of its longest heatwaves for years.

The Luton-based carrier said demand had remained strong in July's hot weather and throughout August, while figures also showed that it carried 4.8% more passengers in September.

EasyJet added that profits for the year to September 30 were now set to be at the top end of City expectations, having already upped guidance in July when it defied concerns about the impact of the heatwave and said it was in line to smash profit forecasts.

The group now expects annual profits of between £470 million and £480 million, against £317 million a year earlier, and said revenues per seat were also expected to grow by around 6%.

It said that more than a quarter of seats have been sold in the first half of its new financial year, in line with bookings from a year earlier.

But the company cautioned that half-year fuel costs were expected to rise by up to £30 million year-on-year, while currency movements would also have a £10 million impact.

EasyJet has shrugged off fears over a difficult summer for getaways amid the warm sunny weather, as well as many of the woes impacting rival Ryanair.

The Dublin-based airline warned over profits last month, saying it was being hit by increased competition, while fares were under pressure from Europe's continued economic problems.

EasyJet was recently given the green light to modernise its fleet after shareholders backed plans to order up to 235 new aircraft - in spite of objections from founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou.

It will upgrade and expand its fleet by acquiring 135 Airbus planes over the next nine years. There is also an option to buy a further 100 Airbus planes as part of the deal.

The purchase is expected to allow easyJet to boost passenger numbers from the current level of just over 60 million a year to around 90 million.