EasyJet expects profits to surge on soaring passenger numbers

EASYJET yesterday forecast a “substantial” improvement in full-year profit as revenues and passenger numbers increase.

First quarter revenues jumped by 10.5 per cent to £607m ($982m) at the low cost airline. Passenger numbers jumped by nine per cent to 11m. Easyjet said it managed to operate 90 per cent of its flights in December, despite bad weather which closed some airports.

Chief executive Andy Harrison said underlying business in the first quarter had been “encouraging”.

However, Harrison said that Easyjet faced “a tough trading environment”.

The company said the number of its passengers from outside the UK increased by 20 per cent in the first quarter to 54 per cent. Easyjet’s load factor, which shows how full its planes are, grew by 2.4 percentage points to 85.8 per cent. The increase in passengers at airports such as Milan Malpensa, Madrid Barajas and Paris Orly helped to fuel the rise.

However, the company lost an estimated £8m when flights were cancelled during the bad weather.

Easyjet’s profits were down 65 per cent to £43.7m last year, but the company was one of the few airlines to make a surplus in the recession.