Airline easyJet has posted revenue per seat growth (at constant currency) of around 8.5 per cent for the half year ended March 31st, driven in part by stronger than anticipated late bookings in the run up to Easter.
The figure was approximately 1.5 percentage points higher due to the timing of Easter which fell a week earlier than in 2012.
It wasn't all good news, with the bad weather resulting in higher than anticipated level of cancellations and as a consequence capacity growth was marginally lower than guidance at 3.3%. Overall, results for the period were in line with expectations.
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The cost per seat, excluding fuel, as constant currency rose by around 3.5%, within the guidance given in January despite load factors being 1.7 percentage points higher and the impact of adverse weather.
The weakening of sterling against the euro, dollar, and Swiss france, is expected to have had a £30-35m adverse effect during the period, plus approximately £5.0m resulting from changes in the fuel price.
However, the board said it still expects a pre-tax loss for the six months of between £60-65m, compared with the previous guidance of a £50-£75m loss.
Looking ahead, the group aniticpates that at current fuel and exchange rates the second half adverse impact compared to the same period in the prior year from currency and fuel will be around £15m.
Carolyn McCall, easyJet's Chief Executive said: "easyJet's performance over the first half reflects the continuing successful delivery of our strategy of low fares, coupled with friendly service on Europe's leading network.
"First half losses have been halved year-on-year through our disciplined approach to capacity deployment and a focus on cost management over winter. We have also benefited from rival airlines taking winter capacity out of the market, the earlier timing of Easter compared to last year and the poor weather across the UK and northern Europe which stimulated strong bookings in the last few weeks of the first half of the financial year."
The group added that it has continued to make good progress on its evaluation of the next generation of short-haul aircraft technology and has decided to exercise options for three A320 aircraft whilst it completes the fleet evaluation process.
March passenger numbers see growthPassenger numbers for March showed a 5.3% increase to 4.87m, while the load factor rose from 88.8% to 90.5% year-on-year.
On a rolling 12 month basis, the year to the end of March climbed 7.1% to 59.73m, while the load factor rose to 89.4% from 88%.
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