Strong summer bookings are boost for easyJet

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Low-cost airline easyJet ​raised​ its annual profit guidance ​thanks to strong summer travel, lower than expected fuel costs, favourable currency moves and a ​pilot ​strike at rival airline​ Air France.​

The company​, ​which flies from Leeds Bradford airport,​ now expect​s​ to report a pre​-​tax profit of ​£​575​m to £580​m, up from the ​previously forecast ​£545​m to ​£​570m​​.

It is an improvement on previous guidance of £545​m to £570​m for 2013/14.

Full-year results will be published on November 18.

​​Chief executive Carolyn ​Mc​Call said: “​E​asyJet has continued to execute its strategy, delivering another strong performance in the second half of the year. This has enabled easyJet to deliver record profits for the fourth year in a row.

“This will also lead to our largest ever ordinary dividend payment as we are also proposing to increase the proportion of our profits after tax paid in dividends from 33​ per cent​ to 40​ per cent​.”

The group said: “The impact of the Air France pilots’ strike in September is expected to increase easyJet’s revenue by around £5​m​ as Air France passengers switched to easyJet.”

Pilots at the French carrier went on strike for two weeks last month, leading to half of all flights being cancelled, in a dispute over jobs and operations being moved to low-cost carrier Transavia.

Easyjet said the sales boost this provided “combined with the strong finish to the year” had lifted its pre-tax profit expectations.

Passenger numbers for September were up 7.5​ per cent​ year on year to 6.14​m.

As well as the Air France strike, easyJet said the second half of the financial year was boosted by a £2​m benefit from favourable fuel costs - against a previous expectation of a £5​m hit.

Revenue per seat for the period was expected to rise by ​two per cent​ as against an earlier outlook of ​one per cent​.

The carrier said more than a quarter of seats for the first half of the next financial year had now been sold, slightly ahead of the prior year.

Fuel costs for 2014/15 are expected to be around £50​m lower.

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