EasyJet shares dip in spite of better losses

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EASYJET landed a smaller-than-expected loss in the first half of its financial year, helped by a rise in business passengers choosing the low-cost airline.

Shares in the firm fell 4.2 per cent to make it the worst performer in the FTSE 100 yesterday, which analysts blamed on profit-taking after a strong year and several forecast upgrades.

The airline said one in five EasyJet customers are now taking business trips, 18 months after it introduced allocated seating on all flights to help entice business passengers.

Chief executive Carolyn McCall told reporters that the airline could add even more business customers, though “the thing for us is getting the right yield for that market”.

The firm posted a pre-tax loss of £53m for the traditionally quiet six months to the end of March, 13 per cent better than a year ago and ahead of company forecasts.

Revenues rose 6.3 per cent to £1.7bn, while costs per seat excluding fuel rose 0.5 per cent to £39.20. Each seat on a typical EasyJet flight now generates £54.80, or 1.5 per cent higher than last year excluding currency changes.

Over the summer, the airline expects to lift capacity by 6.7 per cent. The recent unrest in Ukraine has slightly damaged the popularity of EasyJet’s London to Moscow service – but the return leg of the route has not shown any change, McCall said.

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