EasyJet fare increase equates to ‘couple of coffees on high street’

EasyJet’s boss said fare increases at the airline are about the same as a “couple of coffees on the high street”.

The budget carrier reported its average one-way fare for the six months to the end of March was £65, a £2.90 increase compared to the same period last year.

Johan Lundgren, chief executive of easyJet, made his comments as he outlined the carrier’s half-year trading update, which showed seasonal losses were trimmed by more than £50 million.

Asked if he had seen any signs of travel fatigue or passengers cutting back amid cost-of-living concerns, Lundgren said he had seen no changes in demand.

“We do not see any difference in the momentum, the demand continues to build,” he said, noting the continued popularity of traditional destinations such as Majorca, Malaga, Portugal and cities such as Amsterdam.

More: EasyJet trims winter losses by more than £50m

EasyJet suspends Israel flights for summer amid safety concerns

Between October and March, passenger numbers were up 8% year on year, while Easter demand was “particularly strong”, said the airline in its update.

Lundgren also said there has been no impact on sales to Turkey and Egypt since the attacks on Israel by Iran at the weekend.

The airline announced on Tuesday (April 16) that it has cancelled flights to and from Tel Aviv for the whole summer, citing safety concerns following the drone and missile attacks.

Asked about the impact on Turkey and Egypt, Lundgren said: “We have seen nothing in terms of the impact into the region following the weekend.

“It is an evolving situation but there is no impact in the places nearby.”

He said the carrier took “a lot of factors” into account when it cancelled the Israeli flights but noted it was a “very limited programme” – about 0.3% of planned summer flying.

The capacity has been reallocated to places where demand is strong, he added, such as Majorca and Malaga.

EasyJet said it had reduced its winter losses despite rising fuel costs and the conflict in the Middle East, which resulted in a direct impact of about £40 million in the first half.

Meanwhile, Julie Palmer, partner at consultancy Begbies Traynor, commented: “EasyJet has shown why it’s one of the market’s favourite airlines currently, with its trading update this morning evidence of a company deserving of its recent return to the FTSE 100.

“As we head into the all-important summer months, this momentum is likely to continue with the airline noting a rise in bookings and further price increases compared to last year.

“The group will also be buoyed by the positive trends seen in its holiday business, with the division reporting how 70% of its summer programmes have already been sold and further customer growth.

“Unfortunately, today’s improved numbers are overshadowed somewhat by the ongoing geopolitical uncertainty in the Middle East.

“EasyJet might be able to redeploy the flights it had intended for Israel over the next six months, but even this temporary change highlights how susceptible airlines have been of late to events beyond their control.”

Mohsin Saleh, associate partner at OC&C Strategy Consultants, also noted how rising passenger numbers reflect the trend for consumers to prioritise holidays, despite the sharp increase in the cost of air travel.

“Our research has found that UK consumers intend to spend 6% more on big holidays over the next 12 months compared to last year,” he said.

“This increase is in spite of price pressures, with the average airfare for the euro area increasing by 38% since January 2019, showing that consumers are prioritising travel spend over other discretionary spending.”

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