EasyJet expects to trim traditional winter half-year losses by as much as £40 million.
The forecast came in a trading update today, showing that the pre-tax loss in the six month period to March 31 is expected to be between £110 million and £120 million against a first half loss of £153 million a year earlier.
The improved performance comes despite a £100 million rise in the airline’s first half fuel bill.
The increase in total revenue per seat for the six months will be better than expected at 10%, with around half of the improvement driven by the actions taken last year on ancillary pricing, the airline said.
“In a difficult environment for all airlines, improvements in revenue management combined with marketing and website initiatives have enabled easyJet to take advantage as weaker competitors have left the market over the last couple of months,” the trading statement said.
Disruption and de-icing costs are £18 million lower than last winter due to improved conditions which contributed to an “unusually low level” of cancelled flights.
Chief executive Carolyn McCall said: “Although the economic environment remains weak, easyJet’s strategy of affordable fares and our focus on making it easy for our customers ensures that easyJet is well positioned to deliver good results for shareholders.
“We continue to expect the environment for airlines to remain difficult.
“We will continue to deliver for our customers, focus on operational excellence, manage our costs tightly and allocate our capacity to the markets that will deliver the best financial return.”
The statement came as the airline starting flying from Southend airport for the first time this morning.