EasyJet boss Andy Harrison has warned that rival airlines will not survive the record oil price as the low-cost carrier reported losses of £57 million in the six months to the end of March.
The carrier’s underlying losses for the winter, when airlines often lose money, were 17% up on 2007 at £48 million. The losses came despite a 15% year-on-year rise in passengers over the six months to almost 19 million and a 24% increase in revenue to £892 million.
EasyJet chief executive Andy Harrison noted the price of jet fuel has risen 35% in the past three months and said: “Oil remains the biggest challenge and uncertainty. If these fuel increases are maintained many of weaker competitors will disappear or downsize.”
However, Harrison said EasyJet would emerge from the downturn, insisting: “We continue to grow rapidly in mainland Europe, with 280 million Europeans living within an hour’s drive of an EasyJet flight.”
The airline reported a 13% rise in passenger numbers year on year in April but a fall of three percentage points in the proportion of seats sold, reflecting the continuing expansion of its fleet.