Budget carrier easyJet upgrades first-half outlook

March 25, 2014 - 10:44:08 am

LONDON: British budget airline easyJet upgraded its first-half outlook by 25 percent on Tuesday, due to tight cost control and the popularity of its allocated seating programme.

EasyJet said on Tuesday that it expected to post a pre-tax loss of between 55 million pounds or $91 million and 65 million pounds for the six months to March 31, an improvement on previous guidance of 70 million pounds to 90 million pounds.

The group, which like its rivals traditionally runs at a loss during its winter first half when fewer customers fly, reported a loss of 61 million pounds for the same period last year.

The upgrade was also helped by a benign winter which meant less weather-related disruption, easyJet said.

EasyJet has over the last year stolen a march on bigger budget rival Ryanair by introducing measures such as allocated seating and allowing passengers to change their flights in a bid to appeal to business travellers.

Shares in easyJet, which have risen 62 percent over the last year, closed at 1,632 pence on Monday.

Traders expected them to be up over 2 percent on Tuesday.

"This performance demonstrates our continued focus on cost and progress against all our strategic priorities," easyJet's Chief Executive Carolyn McCall said in a statement.

Revenue per seat in the six month period is expected to rise 1.5 percent, easyJet said, higher than a forecast given in January of "very slightly up", on a boost from allocated seating and other initiatives.

The forecast improvement to easyJet's first-half performance comes despite it guiding to a hit of up to 8 million pounds from additional unit fuel costs for this first-half compared to the same period in 2013.  (Reuters)