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EasyJet upbeat on recovery, encouraged by recent customer demand

By AFP - Aug 04,2020 - Last updated at Aug 04,2020

An Airbus A320-214 of British airline Easyjet takes off from the Airbus delivery centre, in Colomiers, near Toulouse, southwestern France, on November 15, 2019 (AFP photo)

LONDON — EasyJet flew into an expected loss during its third quarter as the coronavirus pandemic kept the bulk of planes grounded, the British no-frills airline said on Tuesday.

The group reported a pre-tax loss of £324.5 million ($419 million, 355 million euros) in the three months to June, its third-quarter.

This compared with profit of £174 million a year earlier.

But EasyJet, which returned to the skies on June 15 with a very limited schedule, said it had been encouraged by the level of recent customer demand.

"Our bookings for the remainder of the summer are performing better than expected and as a result we have decided to expand our schedule over the fourth quarter to fly about 40 per cent of capacity," said Chief Executive Johan Lundgren. 

The carrier had previously forecast 30 per cent capacity.

EasyJet shares soared 8 per cent in early London trading on Tuesday following the trading update.

However at just short of 550 pence, its stock price remained hugely down on its pre-pandemic level of around 1,500 pence.

EasyJet, whose entire fleet was grounded on March 30 owing to the pandemic, carried just 117,000 passengers in the final two weeks of June. 

That compared with more than 26 million passengers flown between April and June 2019.

"We have now completed more than one month of restart operations and are seeing encouraging performance across the network with a continued focus to undertake only profitable flying," the airline said Tuesday. 

"In July, EasyJet flew just over two million passengers."

In May, the group announced plans to axe up to 4,500 jobs, or almost one third of its staff, owing to the dramatic slump in demand that has caused airlines worldwide to take similar measures.

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