Low-cost carrier easyJet has reported that its losses soared to £275 million in the first half of the financial year due to higher fuel prices and the impact of the Gatwick Airport drone incident.
The carrier flew 41.6 million passengers in the period, 13.3 per cent more than the same six months last year on the back of capacity increasing to 46.2 million seats.
Revenue did grow by 7.3 per cent to £2.34 billion but revenue per seat fell 6.3 per cent to £50.71 and exclusing fuel costs and the impact of exchange rate, the cost per seat rose by 1.3 per cent to £43.65.
The drone incident at Gatwick Airport just before Christmas cost easyJet £15 million.
Easyjet left profit before tax expectations for the full year unchanged, while lowering its estimated fuel bill by £40 million to £1.4 billion. The carrier also blamed ongoing Brexit uncertainty for part of its woes.
easyJet chief executive, Johan Lundgren said: “I am pleased that despite tougher trading conditions, we flew more than 41m customers, up 13 per cent on last year, performed well operationally with 54 per cent fewer cancellations in the period and customer satisfaction with our crew is at an all-time high. We have also continued to make good progress on our strategic initiatives in holidays, loyalty, business and with data.
“Cost control remains a major priority for Easyjet. Our focus is on efficiency and on innovation through data and we are on track to deliver more than £100m in cost savings during 2019.
“We are well-equipped to succeed in this more difficult market through a number of short term customer and trading initiatives for the summer; measures to improve our operational resilience; and by focusing on what is most important to customers – value for money, punctuality and great customer service. All this is underpinned by a market leading balance sheet.”