Belfast Telegraph

EasyJet sales up 11% as it poaches boss from Ryanair

By Holly Williams

Low-cost airline easyJet has cheered an 11% surge in sales thanks to this year's later Easter as the group revealed it has poached a new operations chief from rival Ryanair.

The carrier, which recently unveiled a new route from Belfast International Airport to Morocco, said it plans to appoint Peter Bellew, who has held the same role of chief operations officer since December 2017 at Ryanair.

The appointment is seen as a coup for the group, which has suffered a difficult 2019 so far and was recently booted out of the FTSE 100 Index after hefty share price falls.

It saw revenues rise 11.4% to £1.8bn in the three months to June 30 as the timing of Easter helped offset falling demand amid Brexit uncertainty.

The no-frills carrier said the later Easter boosted revenues by around £40m, while it flew another two million passengers in the quarter - up 8% at 26.4 million. It said revenue per seat, which reflects air fares, rose 0.7% - helped in part by a surge in late summer bookings.

The group confirmed it remained on track for annual pre-tax profits of between £400m and £440m, with second-half bookings 78% sold. But easyJet said it had seen some "softening of demand due to tougher macroeconomic conditions across Europe as well as Brexit-related consumer uncertainty in the UK".

Its load factor - a measure of how well it fills its planes - fell by 1.7 percentage points to 91.7%, partly due to a strong performance a year earlier when it benefited from the demise of rival Monarch.

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Johan Lundgren, easyJet chief executive, said: "easyJet's third-quarter performance was robust and, despite the tougher macroeconomic conditions, was in line with expectations."

Shares in easyJet lifted more than 3% after the bullish update, which comes amid a difficult time for the sector.

Rival Ryanair revealed earlier this week that it plans to slash services, with cuts and closures at some of its bases from this winter due to delays to aircraft deliveries amid the Boeing 737 Max aircraft crisis.

Belfast Telegraph