EasyJet confirms improved first half as losses cut

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UK low-cost carrier EasyJet anticipates first half losses of between $60-65 million in the first half, in line with its earlier forecast and almost half the $112 million it lost at the same stage last year.

In a trading update for the six months ending March 2013 EasyJet says its revenue per seat growth of around 8.5% was marginally ahead of its guidance in January due in part to stronger than anticipated pre-Easter bookings - though around 1.5 percentage points of this growth reflects the earlier falling of Easter this year. It says its cost per seat excluding fuel increase of 3.5% is within its earlier guidance.

While citing the weakening of the UK pound sterling for a $30-35 million hit in the first half, the airline expects to cut its pre-tax losses during the first half to between $60-65 million. This is in line with its January expectations of a loss within the £50-75 million range.

"First half losses have been halved year on year through our disciplined approach to capacity deployment and a focus on cost management over winter," says EasyJet chief executive Carolyn McCall. "We have also benefited from rival airlines taking winter capacity out of the market, the earlier timing of Easter compared to last year and the poor weather across the UK and northern Europe which stimulated strong bookings in the last few weeks of the first half of the financial year."