Low fares airline easyJet adds passengers

easyJet flight

Passenger numbers at low cost airline easyJet grew by 12.4% to just over 9 million in the last quarter of 2007.

But passengers originating from the UK only increased by 5%. It was thanks to a strong performance in Europe, where easyJet has invested in Italy, Spain and Switzerland, that the overall figures look so good. The number of non-UK originating passengers leapt by 22%.

Despite the increase in passengers, load factors (the percentage of seats occupied) actually fell by 0.9% in the last quarter of 2007. This was due to “specific competitive issues” which easyJet says it is addressing.

There were some areas that bucked the trend, however. Load factors for London-based aircraft were ahead of last year, with a particularly strong performance at Gatwick.

The introduction of a charge for checked in baggage helped easyJet grow total revenue per seat by 0.5%. But passenger revenue per seat excluding ancillary revenue actually fell by 4%. Ancillary revenue leapt by 61.9% largely as a result of the introduction of the checked baggage charge of £2 in October. The cost of checking in a bag has now gone up to £3.99.

This year has seen mixed results. easyJet says that seat occupancy levels in January 2008 were down by 2.8%. However, it reports forward bookings for February and March show an improving trend. “Forward bookings are in line with expectations despite the uncertain macro-economic environment,” the company says in its management statement.

On 31 January easyJet completed its acquisition of GB Airways and now claims to be the biggest airline operating from Gatwick. It is also offering flights from Manchester airport for the first time. easyJet says it still expects to show a pre-tax profit for the financial year ending in March of around 20%.

Written by: Nick Purdom