easyJet flying high despite ash cloud

easyJet flying high despite ash cloud

easyJet’s third quarter revenue to the end of June rose more than 5 percent to £759.2m despite the volcanic ash cloud costing it £65m. The budget airlines also said it expects to make a full-year profit of £100-150m compared to £43.7m last year.

The company’s new chief executive, Carolyn McCall, said: “EasyJet has continued to deliver a good commercial performance in the quarter with total revenue up 5.3 percent. This was in spite of the challenges presented by significant disruption caused by volcanic ash and, more recently, the combination of air traffic control industrial action and crewing issues in some parts of our network.”

The volcanic ash cloud in April forced easyJet to cancel 7,314 flights and disrupt the travel plans of nearly one million passengers. Last week Ryanair said the volcano cost it an estimated €50m (£42m).

easyJet said forward bookings are in line with last year and it has sold 64 percent of seats for the three months to end September, its fourth financial quarter.

The Luton-based carrier said that stripping out the effects of the volcano, the number of occupied seats increased 10 percent in the quarter. But taking into account the volcano, it came in at a more modest 1.7 percent. Overall, total revenue per seat in the last three months rose 3.5 percent to £53.23.

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However the airline is still being nagged by a long-running despite between its founder and largest shareholder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou and the board over its growth strategy.

Haji-Ioannou has demanded that easyJet reduce plans to boost its fleet from 189 to 208 by 2012 and wants the board to recommend a dividend along the lines of arch rival Ryanair.

Earlier this month he even threatened to remove the low-cost airline’s right to the “easy” name claiming it is in breach of a brand licence that limits the carrier’s earnings from non-core activities to no more than 25% of revenues.