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We believe testing for travel across our network should soon become a thing of the past.
"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.
"We remain confident that easyJet will continue to win customers and are excited about our plans for the summer as we identify further opportunities at our key bases which, alongside our step-changed ancillary offering, will deliver strong, sustainable shareholder returns."
During Q1 easyJet flew 64% of FY'19 capacity which was broadly in line with the guidance provided and a significant increase on the same period last year where easyJet flew 18% of FY'19 capacity.
Load factor was 77%, rather than over 80% as guided, due to the impact that Omicron had on customers' confidence and ability to travel during December. easyJet saw significant levels of late flight transfers out of December due to travel restrictions and concerns over Omicron. These customers have used our customer friendly policies to re-book easyJet flights which will have a positive impact on load factors, revenue and customer retention in future periods.
Passenger1 numbers in the quarter increased to 11.9 million (Q1 FY'21: 2.9 million).
Trading statement for the quarter ended 31 December 2021
· Q1 loss almost halved year on year alongside significantly reduced operating cash burn
· Omicron impacting bookings in the short term
· Increased bookings seen post UK Government decision to remove all travel testing requirements
· Q4'22 on sale capacity unchanged, remaining at near 2019 levels
· Ancillary transformation continuing to deliver higher returns
easyJet's first quarter financial performance was in line with management expectations despite the changing environment which saw increased travel restrictions at the end of the quarter in response to the Omicron variant. October and November saw improved performance as load factors continued to strengthen, with both months above 80%. Omicron paused this momentum which resulted in load factors declining during December. easyJet expects that Omicron will continue to have an impact over short term performance in Q2.
Following the UK Government's announcement on 5 January to remove pre departure testing, easyJet has seen a sustained step change improvement in booking volumes. On 24 January, easyJet welcomed the news that the UK will see restriction free travel from 11 February which has provided a further boost to bookings which we expect will continue to have a positive impact on sales going forward. Since 5 January, other countries, including France, have subsequently followed suit by relaxing restrictions, which is a welcome step closer towards restriction free travel across the whole of Europe.
Q4 on sale capacity is at near 2019 levels, with easyJet's leisure flows expected to see strong demand this summer, in line with previous expectations. While customers continue to book closer to departure and visibility remains limited, booked ticket yield to date remains encouraging for Easter (which falls within Q3) as well as into the Q4 summer period. easyJet holidays also continues to strengthen its position as a significant player in the holidays market, with over 50% of the programme sold and stronger margins compared to 2019.
Commenting, Johan Lundgren, easyJet Chief Executive said:
"easyJet produced a significant year on year improvement in the first quarter, despite the short-term impact of Omicron in December, halving losses and cash burn compared with Q1 21 alongside driving higher returns from ancillaries.
"During the pandemic, easyJet has transformed many areas of the business including optimising its network and flexibility and finding sustainable cost savings. This is helping partially offset inflationary pressure, while also step-changing ancillary revenue, which is delivering for us now.
"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. We believe test
Due to Asia market sell off and the US closing negative, any gains made yesterday could be wipe off today. I seriously feel like I'm on a roller coaster that has no end in sight... Jeez! Still, if it drops below yesterdays start, buying opportunity?
London's FTSE 100 was up 1.9% at 7,511.55 in afternoon trade on Wednesday.
British Airways and Iberia parent IAG was the standout gainer on the index after the government confirmed it will scrap Covid tests for double-jabbed travellers to England.
The shares also benefited from some upbeat commentary from Stifel, which stuck to its 'buy' rating on IAG and said it remained one of its top picks in the sector. Stifel highlighted strong post-corona fundamentals and "unfounded" capital increase concerns.