EasyJet eyes boost in Europe travel as capacity set to triple

Tilt to intra-Europe flights as British market is plagued by restrictions.

British airline easyJet forecast an increase in passenger numbers to 60 per cent of pre-pandemic capacity from just 17 per cent in the most recent quarter as it announced it had stabilised net debt.

Announcing its third quarter debts, the company said its cost and cash management approach had held net debt broadly flat at £2 billion as it recorded a headline loss before tax of £318 million. The figures were in line with analysts expectations.

Easyject said the more than tripling of passenger numbers it projects will come of the back of a pivot towards popular routes where management sees rising customer demand.

EasyJet's boss has been one of the most vocal critics of Britain's approach to travel over the last two months, slamming last-minute changes which have resulted in booking surges and mass cancellations.

For now, easyJet said it had scheduled 60 per cent of its flying on internal European Union routes. Normally its business is split evenly between Britain and the EU.

But the company said it expected bookings from the UK to improve in the coming period as quarantine is scrapped for fully vaccinated arrivals from some European countries.

The airline's plan to fly more capacity in the July- September period, when it tends to make almost all of its profit, is being matched by rival low-cost airlines such Ryanair and Wizz Air which have also added more flights.

EasyJet's positive outlook comes after almost a year and a half of travel restrictions. It has shed staff, cut the size of its fleet and taken on new debt to survive.

The company said that it had improved its cash burn rate during the period to £34 million per week, better than the £40 million guidance it gave earlier in the year, and was well-placed financially with liquidity of £2.9 billion.

But it said limited visibility meant it could not provide guidance for the rest of the year.

Updated: July 20th 2021, 10:10 AM