Budget airline easyJet is confident for strong leisure demand in summer 2022, with easing travel restrictions in the UK and France helping to drive bookings.
“We see a strong summer ahead, with pent up demand that will see easyJet returning to near 2019 levels of capacity with UK beach and leisure routes performing particularly well,” chief executive Johan Lundgren said in the statement on January 27, 2022.
The comments came as easyJet provided a trading update for the three months to December 31, 2021, which make up the first quarter of its financial year.
Two announcements from the UK government on easing travel restrictions have led to rising bookings, Lundgren said.
“Booking volumes jumped in the UK following the welcome reduction of travel restrictions announced on 5 January, which have been sustained and then given a further boost from the UK Government’s decision earlier this week to remove all testing requirements,” Lundgren commented. “We believe testing for travel across our network should soon become a thing of the past.”
However, as for many airlines, easyJet noted the Omicron variant of COVID-19 has dampened demand for travel at the start of 2022.
The British airline said load factors in the three months to December 31, 2022 were 77%, rather than over 80% as it had originally anticipated. In October and November, it had reported load factors of over 80%, but this dropped to 67% in December. However, it said customers had rebooked their flights, which it predicts will boost load factors and revenue in future months.
For its second quarter, easyJet currently has 67% of its pre-crisis capacity on sale. For January, capacity is just 50% of 2019 levels, which easyJet said would increase throughout the quarter.
Bookings for Easter, which falls in the third quarter, are “encouraging”, easyJet said, while it plans to increase capacity to near pre-pandemic levels for the fourth quarter, the peak summer season. In the first quarter, capacity was 64% of pre-COVID-19 levels.
Budget rival Wizz Air made similar comments about Omicron “denting” its recovery on January 26, 2022 when reporting its third quarter results.
To avoid staffing issues that have hit airlines around the world as Omicron spreads amongst crew, easyJet also said it had increased the number of staff on standby to protect its operations. It has also
In its first quarter, easyJet almost halved its headline loss before tax to £213 million, from £423 million one year ago. It carried 11.89 million passengers in the quarter and operated 251 aircraft during peak periods.