With just days to go before the start of the London 2012 Olympics, EasyJet has played down any positive impact from the games on its passenger numbers.
In a stock exchange statement on its third quarter performance, the airline says demand for flights "touching London" during the period of the games "both for inbound business travellers and outbound leisure travellers" has fallen. However, "forward bookings show a recovery once the games have concluded," it says.
Revenue for the period, ended 30 June, stood at £1 billion ($1.5 billion), up from £935.3 million a year earlier, on the back of growth in the number of seats flown and passengers carried, up 7.5% and 10.9% respectively, yielding an increase in load factor of 2.8 percentage points to 89.1%.
The carrier is forecasting full-year pre-tax profit for the year ending 30 September of £280 million to £300 million on the back of strong operational and financial performance and falling jet fuel prices.
EasyJet has also edged closer to a new aircraft order. Following a technical and commercial evaluation of the latest offerings from Airbus, Boeing and Bombardier earlier in the year, the carrier will now seek "indicative pricing" from the manufacturers to gauge both capital costs and likely returns associated with a future fleet order. However, shareholders will be given the final say on any commitment for new jets "given the likely size of future orders".
During the quarter it took delivery of 12 A320-family aircraft and returned five A319s to lessors, it says. Its fleet now stands at 211 aircraft.
Capacity growth in the period was focussed on France, Switzerland and Italy, it says. "The recently opened bases in Nice and Toulouse have experienced strong initial demand with summer load factors ahead of the company average."