British carrier easyJet says it has seen a strong recovery in travel demand and still expects its summer 2022 capacity to be near 2019 levels, even despite recent flight cancellations.
“Since travel restrictions were removed, easyJet has seen a strong recovery in trading which has been sustained, resulting in a positive outlook for Easter and beyond, with daily booking volumes for summer currently tracking ahead of those at the same time in FY19,” Chief Executive Johan Lundgren said in a trading update on April 12, 2022.
“We remain confident in our plans which will see us reaching near 2019 flying levels for this summer and emerge as one of the winners in the recovery,” he added.
The confident outlook came even as the carrier has been among those in Europe canceling flights due to staff shortages.
Over the last seven days, easyJet said it has flown 94% of its planned schedule, meaning 6% have been canceled. It has been operating around 1,500 flights per day, four times what it had last year.
“This is despite the recent increase in the number of crew testing positive for Covid-19, together with normal operational disruption such as weather and ATC delays,” the airline said in the statement. “We have proactively managed this in advance by making pre-emptive cancellations as early as possible, enabling the majority of our customers to rebook onto flights departing the same day.”
The airline said it was seeing a more even split across operations this year, with bookings from the UK accounting for half of its business and the EU the remainder. Last year, when the UK had stricter travel restrictions, easyJet’s business was skewed 70:30 towards EU bookings.
Under Lundgren, easyJet has been making more of a push into leisure bookings and offering package holidays.
“We continue to see strong demand for Q4, especially on leisure routes where easyJet will be the biggest it has ever been,” the airline said. easyJet has secured a further five aircraft worth of slots in Greece, which will make it the largest carrier to the Greek islands this summer. It said that easyJet Holidays has already sold 70% of its program and at significantly better margins than the pre-crisis year of 2019.
The airline said it was shocked and saddened by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and it was working with UNICEF to help support efforts. It said the war has limited impact on its operations because it has very little exposure in Eastern Europe, with no routes into Ukraine, Russia or Belarus.
“Our nearest network points are Budapest in Hungary and Krakow in Poland which only account for 1.4% of our total capacity,” it said.
For the first six months of its financial year to March 31, 2022, easyJet is expecting a loss before tax of between £535 million to £565 million ($696 – $735 million). It said the performance would be better than expected by financial analysts.
easyJet expects third quarter capacity to be about 90% of Q3 2019 levels. Fourth quarter capacity on sale remains at near Q4 2019 levels.
The carrier also said it had reduced its exposure to current high fuel prices, with 64% of its fuel requirements for the second half hedged at $571 per metric tonne.