Business

EasyJet half-year loss widens on weaker pound

Easyjet

EasyJet has reported a larger loss for the the first half of its financial year, partly due to the impact of the lower pound and the timing of Easter.

The airline recorded a loss of £212m in the six months to March.

That compares with a loss of £21m in the same period a year ago, when Easter was in March and before the pound was hit by the Brexit vote.

However, EasyJet said its performance had been "resilient" and the losses were in line with market expectations.

Total revenue grew 3.2% to £1.827bn and it flew a record 33.8 million passengers in the six months, up 9% from a year before.

Even so, investors were not impressed with the results, sending the airline's shares down nearly 7% in afternoon trading.

Holidays prioritised

EasyJet's chief executive, Carolyn McCall, told the BBC's Today programme that £82m of the loss was down to the weakness of sterling.

She said it was normal for the company to make a loss in the first half of its financial year.

"Nineteen out of 21 years Easyjet has lost money in the winter and actually airlines do lose money in the winter," she said

Ms McCall added that she was relatively unconcerned about the squeeze on living costs, particularly affecting the UK, where wages are growing more slowly than inflation.

"British people and all Europeans value their holidays, and so they actually prioritise their holidays over everything else," she said.

"One survey said British families were saying they would pay for a family holiday over buying kids' clothes."

EasyJet said that it was on track to gain its European Air Operator Certificate by the summer. It needs this to make sure that it can still operate between European Union member countries after the UK leaves the EU.

A third of its flights are between EU countries and do not involve the UK. Gaining the certificate will lead to a one-off cost, mainly for aircraft registration, of up to £10m over three years, with up to £3m of that this year.

The carrier said that bookings for the summer were ahead of last year, showing that demand to fly remains strong.

It added that it expected to meet current forecasts for its performance for the rest of the year.

In a separate announcement, EasyJet said it would be launching its largest pilot recruitment drive in June, as it looks for an additional 450 pilots.

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