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EasyJet sees less turbulence after $160 million hit from cancellations

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·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: EasyJet planes are seen at Luton Airport
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By Paul Sandle

LONDON (Reuters) -EasyJet forecast less turbulence for the rest of the summer after it cut its schedule to tackle delays and last-minute cancellations that cost it 133 million pounds ($160 million) in the three months to the end of June.

Chief Executive Johan Lundgren said removing thousands of flights had stabilised day-to-day operations.

"This weekend, for example, the first of the UK school summer holidays, we operated more than 3,100 flights across Saturday and Sunday and made zero on-the-day cancellations in the UK," he told reporters on Tuesday.

The British low-cost airline said an "unprecedented ramp up" in aviation, coupled with a tight labour market, had resulted in operational challenges and cancellations.

EasyJet cut its flights after caps were imposed by London Gatwick and Amsterdam Schiphol airports, a step taken to reduce misplaced bags, delays and last-minute cancellations.

Lundgren said this summer was a "one-off" and the industry had to work together to improve service rather than "pointing fingers".

"There is no one across the industry in aviation at all who hasn't felt the pressure and the squeeze, whether that is ground handlers, or airports or air traffic management or airlines," he said.

Heathrow, Britain's busiest airport which is not used by easyJet, has capped departing passengers at 100,000 a day for the rest of the summer.

"We've seen a significant improvement in both punctuality and baggage performance since the cap came in," Chief Executive John Holland-Kaye told Reuters on Tuesday.

He said ground handling capacity had fallen sharply during the pandemic as airlines cut costs.

Caps would remain until the shortage was resolved, he said, adding it was a responsibility of the airlines.

"I think it will take 12 to 18 months for the aviation sector to get back to pre-COVID levels," he said.

EasyJet said the disruption and pressure on household budgets had not dampened demand for travel, reflected in the yield on the tickets sold for its current quarter rising 13% above pre-pandemic levels.

Flights for July-September were 71% booked, with a load factor - a measure of how well planes are filled - slightly ahead of 2019.

Shares in easyJet, which reported a headline loss before tax of 114 million pounds for April-June, were up 1.7% in morning deals.

($1 = 0.8297 pounds)

(Reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by Kate Holton and Mark Potter)

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