Easyjet blames earnings hit on an increase in fuel prices

EASYJET yesterday said it had seen its first-half losses almost double as it struggled to put a lid on the impact of higher fuel prices.

Europe’s second largest low-cost airline by passenger numbers said pre-tax losses rose 94 per cent to £153m in the six months to the end of March, compared with £79m in the same period a year earlier.

But revenues rose eight per cent to £1.27bn as the UK-based airline carried 23.9m passengers, an increase of 12 per cent.

Earnings were hit by the jump in the price of fuel, which rose by 40 per cent in the first-half of the year, and a rise in departure taxes.

A sharp increase in capacity, up 11 per cent in the period, was reflected by the airline having to cut fares to fill the seats, leading to a 2.1 per cent drop in revenue per seat. The losses were in line with expectations following a profit warning by the company in late January as fuel costs surged. The big freeze also took its toll.

EasyJet’s chief executive Carolyn McCall (pictured) said: “The past six months has been tough with sharply rising fuel costs combined with cautious behaviour by consumers and an adverse impact from taxes on passengers.”

The company tried to shrug off the widening losses. EasyJet said the airline was “highly cash generative” and plans to restart dividend payments, with the first next year.