Easyjet annual profits soar over strike hit and high costs

Low-cost airline easyJet has shrugged off strike woes and surging costs to notch up a 41% jump in annual profits.

The budget carrier reported pre-tax profits of £578 million for the year to September 30, up significantly on the £408m seen the previous year.

But easyJet warned that cost pressures will continue into its new financial year, with a hit of up to £100m expected from rising fuel prices.

It also said revenues per seat will fall in the first half, due to factors including the timing of Easter.

The group flew a record number of passengers, up 10.2% at 88.5 million

EasyJet, which operates a hub at Belfast International Airport, said it continues to prepare for Brexit, having set itself up across Europe to be able to operate via airlines in the UK, Switzerland and Austria to enable ongoing flying in the EU.

It said: “Both the EU and the UK have said that their objective is to maintain flights between the EU and the UK, whatever the Brexit outcome.

“This gives easyJet confidence that flying rights will be maintained, and it continues to work with EU institutions, EU member states and the UK to ensure that this is achieved.”

Full-year results showed the group flew a record number of passengers, up 10.2% at 88.5 million, with total revenues up 16.8% to £5.9 billion.

Reported pre-tax profits rose to £445m from £385m the previous year.

The airline also booked a £112m underlying loss from its operations at Berlin Tegel Airport in Germany.

But it admitted “disruption has been a major factor” for the group, with cancellations up significantly to 6,814 from 2,502 the previous year.

The industry was rocked by summer strike chaos as a result of air traffic control strikes in France and Italy.

CEO Johan Lundgren said: “EasyJet has delivered a great performance during the year, growing headline profit before tax by 41%, once again flying a record number of passengers at our highest ever annual load factor.”