EasyJet almost halved losses for the three months to December 31 despite tighter travel restrictions in response to the Omicron variant.
The headline loss of £213 million for the quarter was a £210 million improvement year-on-year.
The UK budget carrier reported a “sustained step change improvement” in bookings following the government announcing the removal pre-departure testing on January 5.
This week’s decision to allow restriction free travel from February 11 has provided a further boost to bookings, which is expected to continue to have a positive impact on sales going forward.
“Since 5 January, other countries, including France, have subsequently followed suit by relaxing restrictions, which is a welcome step closer towards restriction free travel across the whole of Europe,” the airline said.
Summer capacity is on sale at close to pre-pandemic 2019 levels, with strong demand expected.
The carrier said: “While customers continue to book closer to departure and visibility remains limited, booked ticket yield to date remains encouraging for Easter (which falls within Q3) as well as into the Q4 summer period.
“EasyJet holidays also continues to strengthen its position as a significant player in the holidays market, with over 50% of the programme sold and stronger margins compared to 2019.”
Total group revenue for the quarter increased to £805 million from £165 million in the same period a year earlier. Passenger revenue rose to £547 million and ancillary revenue was up to £258 million primarily as a result of the increase in capacity flown, the company reported.
“Underlying ancillary revenue per booked passenger remains strong despite winter seasonality and the impact of reduced ski travel in December due to Omicron,” the airline added.
Chief executive Johan Lundgren said: “EasyJet produced a significant year-on-year improvement in the first quarter, despite the short-term impact of Omicron in December, halving losses and cash burn compared with Q1 ‘21 alongside driving higher returns from ancillaries.
“During the pandemic, easyJet has transformed many areas of the business including optimising its network and flexibility and finding sustainable cost savings. This is helping partially offset inflationary pressure, while also step-changing ancillary revenue, which is delivering for us now.
“Booking volumes jumped in the UK following the welcome reduction of travel restrictions announced on 5 January, which have been sustained and then given a further boost from the UK government’s decision earlier this week to remove all testing requirements.
“We believe testing for travel across our network should soon become a thing of the past.
“We see a strong summer ahead, with pent up demand that will see easyJet returning to near 2019 levels of capacity with UK beach and leisure routes performing particularly well.
“We remain confident that easyJet will continue to win customers and are excited about our plans for the summer as we identify further opportunities at our key bases which, alongside our step-changed ancillary offering, will deliver strong, sustainable shareholder returns.”