EasyJet will operate 60% of its pre-COVID capacity over the remainder of the summer with the airline ‘confident’ that passenger demand will continue to rise as restrictions are eased.
The airline operated just 17% of usual capacity in the May-June quarter – which it said was slightly above expectations – leading to another heavy loss of £318m.
Yet the airline issued a warning that unless the need to take COVID tests is dropped, travel could again become the domain of the wealthy.
In a trading update issued this morning, easyJet said it carried almost three million passengers in Q3, generating revenue of £213m.
But with restrictions easing, the airline will rapidly expand its network over the next three months.
“We remain confident about demand for travel this summer and into autumn, due to the bookings surges experienced following selective easing of travel restrictions,” the carrier said.
It added that customers are booking much closer to departure with 49% of its schedule booked, compared to 65% in 2019.
UK bookings have been slower than intra-Europe flying, the airline said.
In a sign of improving – but still challenging conditions – easyJet reduced its total cash burn in Q3 to £55m.
Chief Executive Johan Lundgren said: “During this quarter we have successfully managed through the continued challenges of the pandemic, using our operational responsiveness to capture demand while focusing on cost control and minimising cash burn.
“We have used our existing strengths like our network with renewed purpose – pivoting capacity to Europe where we saw the strongest demand and the very way we have approached the challenges that we faced means we have adapted and built back stronger for the future.”
Meanwhile, an easyJet survey found 83% believe double vaccinated people should be able to travel to green and amber list countries without the need to take COVID tests.
Lundgren said the cost of tests could price many customers out of the market.
“The government has shifted its focus on living with COVID and opened up the domestic economy,” he said. “We now need to take the same next step for travel and recognise that those who are fully vaccinated do not need to be tested when they are travelling from countries which are not on the Red list.
“We do not want to see a return to flying being a preserve of the rich and so we urge the government to quickly remove these unnecessary tests for low risk countries and for the fully vaccinated otherwise they risk turning back the clock.”