Half-year losses to 31 March were £129.8m, mostly due to an increase in fuel costs of £90.6m, equivalent to an extra £3.87 per seat. The airline lost £48.4m in the year-earlier period. Fuel prices have now come down, however, and chief executive Andy Harrison said easyJet expects to make a profit by the end of the financial year.
For the first time, over half of the airline’s passengers originated outside the UK, with 21.8% growth in travellers on European-based routes. Total revenue increased 15.8% to £1.03bn. Revenue per seat up was up 14.9% (7.6% at constant currency) driven by improved ancillary revenue performance and a 4.8% sector length increase associated with the acquisition of GB Airways.
Overall capacity in the European short-haul market shrank by 5.6%, but easyJet gained market share in the first half, with its passenger numbers rising 2.9% to 19.4m. Load factor improved 1.7 percentage points to 82.9%.
Harrison said: ‘While we remain cautious about the consumer economy, at current fuel prices and exchange rates, easyJet expects to be profitable for the full year.
"easyJet is financially strong, with cash and money market deposits as at 31 March 2009 exceeding £1bn, and has good and well-established market positions and the board remains confident in easyJet’s future prospects."
Forward bookings, measured by available seats booked, and total revenue per seat, before the impact of exchange rates, were in line with last year, with over 40% of the summer now booked. The low-cost carrier’s passenger figures for April show a year-on-year increase of 6.3%, to 3.77m. Load factor increased from 80% to 84.2%.