EasyJet (EZJ.L) saw passenger numbers surge as travel restrictions eased up, but it suffered a loss of £318m ($434.2m) in the third quarter of 2021.
Passenger numbers for the quarter ending 30 June 2021 increased to 3 million, in line with an increase in capacity to 4.5 million seats, representing 17% of Q3 2019 capacity levels.
Last year, the company's fleet had been fully grounded for all but two weeks of the third quarter 2020, flying just 117,000 seats.
Last month, the budget airline had launched 21 new routes using capacity based in Palma de Mallorcas, Faro and Malaga. These represented 286,000 of the seats booked in Q3.
“In order to capitalise on the opening-up of travel in continental Europe and the easing of restrictions for the fully vaccinated in the UK, EasyJet continues to pivot capacity towards popular routes where we see rising customer demand,” the airline said.
Q3 group revenue increased to £212.9m, up from £7.2m a year prior while a loss of £318m was down from £346.m in 2020.
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Group headline costs were £531m, up from £354 and headline loss before tax decreased by 8.2% to £318m, down from £346.8m.
Total cash burn during the quarter was reduced to £55m and EasyJet maintained net debt broadly flat at roughly £2bn.
It has also paid a cumulative total of £1.2bn customer refunds during the pandemic.
As previously announced, its structural cost-out programme is on target to deliver around £500m of savings in FY21, the company said.
Going forward, EasyJet's capacity in Q4 will be up to 60% of 2019 levels, up from 17% in Q3 2021. In Q4 it expects to fly up to 60% of Q4 2019 capacity.
Shares in the company ticked up 1.7% on Tuesday morning.
“We will emerge from the pandemic with longer-term wins along-side baked in sustainable cost reductions, responding effectively and in ways our competitors don't or can't,” said CEO Johan Lundgren.
"This is all underlined by our proven business model, low fares, unrivalled network and brand trust which will be crucial going forward,” he said.
“While we know the road to recovery from the pandemic isn't going to be a straight line we are ready to compete using these new-found strengths with everything we have learned leaving a long-term, positive imprint on the airline, transformed ready for the post-pandemic era."
The company said it remains confident about demand for travel this summer and into autumn, due to the bookings surges experienced following selective easing of travel restrictions.
One example of this is the 400% increase in week-on-week flight bookings seen following the waiving of quarantine for fully vaccinated passengers returning from amber list destinations, it said.
But Laura Hoy, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown warned that "even a best-case scenario this summer doesn’t erase the damage inflicted by the pandemic."
"If EasyJet can rebuild on a leaner cost base to capitalise on the travel frenzy it could find itself flying higher than its peers. However, we’ve yet to see if the pandemic’s scars have dented the airline for good.”
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