Budget airline easyJet said the operating problems of the airline would not disrupt a strong summer, but warned that financial pressures facing consumers could threaten demand at the end of the year.
On Thursday, the London-based airline said it expects flights to run 90 per cent of its schedule before the pandemic between April and June, rising to 97 per cent over the next three months.
Over the past 10 weeks, the number of bookings has increased by 6 percent compared to 2019, thanks to growing demand for holidays and domestic flights, as travel restrictions have eased.
EasyJet’s goals are a little more cautious than rival Ryanair, which this week outlined flight plans for 115 percent of its 2019 flight schedule.
A speedy recovery came as part of it aviation industry struggled to cope with the sudden influx of passengers. EasyJet was forced to cancel many flights this spring due to staff shortages, exacerbated by a wave of Covid-related absences.
The airline has gone so far as to deprive some seats on its planes to allow it to fly with fewer crews in accordance with flight safety rules, but CEO Johan Lundgren said problems had not affected bookings and that people still wanted to travel.
“Reservations have not been affected and are particularly strong, which indicates a delay in demand,” he said.
Despite optimism, the company joined Ryanair, refusing to make recommendations for the rest of the fiscal year, which ends in September, pointing to a “level of short-term uncertainty” driven by customers booking later than usual before the pandemic.
Lundgren said he expects the cost of living crisis “will certainly have some effect.”
“It’s too early to tell, but there is uncertainty about how it will happen in the winter,” he added.
Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary went further and warned of a severe winter amid fears of a recession and pressure on consumer spending.
Both easyJet and Ryanair have said they expect to be isolated from the worst effects of the cost of living crisis because passengers have historically turned to lower-cost airlines in the face of economic uncertainty.
“Even with a negative outlook, we know we will be in a better position than others,” Lundgren said.
EasyJet reported a pre-tax loss of £ 545 million for the six months to the end of March compared to a loss of £ 701 million the previous year and according to instructions issued last month. Revenues more than quadrupled to £ 1.5 billion.