EasyJet boosted by summer demand
British low-cost airline easyJet's profits got an unexpected boost from sun-starved Britons taking last-minute holidays to flee the wet weather at home this summer and from Londoners getting away after the Olympics.
Europe's second-largest budget airline after Ryanair said today it now expects to report a pretax profit of between £310 million and £320 million for the year to the end of September, having previously predicted a result of £280 million to £300 million.
"Following the end of the Olympic games demand from London increased towards the upper end of expectations with the late market and beach routes performing particularly well," said chief executive Carolyn McCall, adding that the carrier was "well placed to continue to succeed" despite a European economic outlook which she called "highly uncertain".
EasyJet, the largest carrier at London's Gatwick airport, said a strong rise in summer bookings from Britain to Malaga and Alicante in Spain and Faro in Portugal had helped revenue per seat by as much as 5.5 per cent in the last six months. Annual passenger numbers rose by 7.1 per cent to 58.4 million.
Some 40 per cent of easyJet's flights are to or from Britain, with around a quarter of its 193 plane fleet based at Gatwick.
EasyJet said its performance on routes within mainland Europe also improved during the year, helped by growth on Swiss services and the addition of French regional services.
Shares in easyJet, which have risen 50 percent in 2012, were up nearly 4 percent at 615.5 pence earlier, valuing the group at around £2.5 billion. Profits have doubled since Ms McCall took over as chief executive in July 2010.
"McCall's second full year in charge has delivered another impressive increase in profits. That's no mean feat in view of the oil price," said Charles Stanley analyst Douglas McNeill.