EasyJet Plc reported a surge in summer bookings while saying there’s still too much uncertainty over demand to provide an outlook for the fiscal year ending in September.
Sales over the past 10 weeks are running 6% ahead of 2019 levels, Luton, England-based EasyJet said Thursday after reporting a narrower first-half loss. Yet almost two-thirds of seats for the crucial quarter starting in July remain available, with bookings coming much closer to departure than before the Covid-19 crisis.
It would therefore “not be appropriate to provide any further financial guidance for the 2022 financial year,” the carrier said.
Chief Executive Officer Johan Lundgren said on a media call that EasyJet is “going in the right direction” in terms of full-year numbers, with bookings and stronger fares encouraging, though “there still is quite a long way to go.” He said there should be more visibility by the time of third-quarter results.
European airlines are bringing back capacity as the removal of coronavirus curbs unleashes pent-up demand, while seeking to judge the pace of the revival. Ryanair Holdings Plc, Europe’s biggest discount carrier, issued an upbeat outlook Monday while cautioning that sales could still be disrupted by a number of factors including Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Irish firm also held off from making a specific financial forecast for its own year through March 2023.
Shares of EasyJet were priced lower at first before trading 0.8% higher as of 9:09 a.m. in London. They’ve shed 9% so far this year.
The carrier said it expects to operate 90% of 2019 capacity this quarter, rising to 97% for the following three months, which mark the summer peak. It reported a pretax loss of 545 million pounds ($673 million) for the first half through March, in line with guidance issued last month.
Lundgren said EasyJet is taking steps to counter snags as travel rebounds, and is “absolutely focused on taking action to ensure we have strengthened our operational resilience for this summer.”
A staffing squeeze has seen flight delays and cancellations, especially at UK airports. EasyJet has responded by hiring record numbers of cabin crew and removing six seats from its smallest Airbus SE A319 jets to permit flights with three flight attendants instead of four.
The CEO said the measure will be a temporary one.