BUDGET airline easyJet said it expects lower half-year losses after a strong start to the ski season and record numbers of business travellers.
The Luton-based carrier, which operates from Belfast International Airport, last month achieved the milestone of flying 10 million business passengers over the past year and hopes this will increase further after completing the roll-out of seat allocation.
EasyJet posted a 9.2 per cent rise in revenues to £833m over the three months to the end of December after flying 13.7m passengers, up 6.2 per cent on a year earlier.
The group expects to deliver a strong improvement in first half figures, which traditionally show a seasonal loss for the airline, with easyJet forecasting pre-tax losses between £50m and £75m, from £112m a year ago.
Shares opened four per cent higher yesterday and have already climbed 16 per cent this year.
It is continuing to benefit as embattled competitors scale back their services, with capacity among rivals down by 2.1 per cent or 800,000 seats on easyJet routes over the final three months of 2012.
The “exceptionally mild” weather seen in the quarter also helped limit disruption, with easyJet cancelling 64 flights during the three months against 236 a year earlier.
But it said the heavy snow and adverse weather over the past week had since caused a surge in cancellations, at around 200 between Friday and Sunday alone, with French airports the worst affected.