EasyJet set to narrow losses as traffic rises

 
Marion Dakers
BUDGET airline EasyJet’s push to attract more cost-conscious business travellers has helped the firm deliver a 9.2 per cent rise in quarterly revenues to £833m.

Passenger numbers rose 6.2 per cent to 13.7m while revenues per seat jumped 3.9 per cent to an average of £53.87 in the final three months of 2012, the firm said in a statement yesterday.

The low-cost carrier picked up customers from rivals, who cut their winter capacity by 800,000 seats, and on new flights to Switzerland and France.

EasyJet also kept a close watch on its expenses, which coupled with mild weather in the period meant the cost per seat rose by just 0.5 per cent, excluding fuel.

The firm said it expects to report pre-tax losses of £50m to £75m in the first half of the year, better than its previous forecast of £100m.

“EasyJet has made a strong start to the year due to a combination of management action, competitor capacity reductions and the benign operating environment,” said chief executive Carolyn McCall.

The firm said it planned to increase capacity by a “prudent” three to five per cent, in a nod to largest shareholder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou’s concerns about the pace of expansion.

EasyJet’s shares closed up 5.1 per cent at 898.5p – a record high.