* Plans to fly 40% of capacity for rest of summer, up from
* Says late summer bookings "performing well"
* Cash burn rate better than expected
* Sees smaller Q4 loss than the 324.5 mln stg in Q3
* Shares climb 8%
(Adds CEO comments, share price, analyst comments)
By Sarah Young
LONDON, Aug 4 (Reuters) - British low-cost airline easyJet
plans to fly at 40% of its capacity over the rest of the
summer thanks to stronger than expected bookings despite
continuing pandemic uncertainty.
A tentative return to air travel in Europe from mid-June
after a three-month pause brought airlines to their knees has
been threatened by a fresh rise in COVID-19 cases, with the UK
already reintroducing travel restrictions to Spain.
But easyJet said late summer bookings were "performing well"
and it would now fly 40% of last year's capacity in its fourth
quarter, compared to earlier guidance of 30%, with its focus on
profitable flying and its flights about 84% full.
Its shares, which have lost more than 60% of their value
since the start of the year, jumped 8% to 547 pence.
The airline also said its cash burn for the three months
ended June 30 was better than expected, at 774 million pounds
rather than the 1 billion pounds guided, and that its fourth
quarter loss would be smaller than the 324.5 million pound loss
booked in the third quarter.
"An encouraging report for the return to service, with
healthy load factors," said Bernstein analyst Daniel Roeska.
EasyJet, which said in May it would need to cut 4,500 jobs,
has taken a more cautious approach than rivals. Europe's largest
budget carrier, Ryanair, said its capacity would rise to 60% in
August and 70% in September, while smaller player Wizz Air
is at about 70%.
Johan Lundgren, easyJet's chief executive, said beach
destinations like Faro and Nice were popular but the market
would remain unpredictable.
"There still is uncertainty you know, also in September, and
there's very little visibility for the whole of the industry on
what's going to come in the winter," he told reporters on
Ryanair was forced to cut its annual passenger target last
week, warning of the impact of a potential second wave of the
($1 = 0.7650 pounds)
(Reporting by Sarah Young, Editing by Paul Sandle, Kirsten