EasyJet has expanded its summer schedule after better-than-expected demand and says it expects to operate about 1,000 flights a day in August.
The budget carrier said popular destinations included Faro and Nice, along with city breaks such as Amsterdam and Paris. EasyJet will have 210 planes flying this month and expects to operate 40% of its capacity between July and September, higher than the 30% predicted at its first-half results.
The news sent the easyJet share price more than 8% higher on Tuesday morning.
Johan Lundgren, the chief executive, said the UK’s sudden decision to reimpose a quarantine for people arriving from Spain last month had not caused customers to cancel their travel plans but put them off making new bookings to the country. He said holidaymakers were now looking at other beach destinations such as Greece, Turkey and Croatia.
He called for more engagement from the UK government, saying the aviation sector had not been consulted about the quarantine decision in advance, and proposed regional quarantines. “We urgently need to target quarantine requirements to where spikes have occurred rather than at national level,” he said.
EasyJet, along with other airlines, was recently criticised by the Civil Aviation Authority for not issuing refunds for cancelled flights quickly enough. Lundgren said he could understand the frustration of customers and the airline was processing refunds within 28 days. “We are working day and night to get that down even further,” he added. He noted that easyJet was dealing with 260,000 cancellations in the quarter, which had led to a big backlog.
Airlines started flying again in June after grounding their fleets for about 11 weeks, as governments imposed national lockdowns to stop the coronavirus spreading.
EasyJet furloughed 4,000 of its 9,000 UK staff under the government’s job retention scheme but has kept its crews and aircraft in flight-ready mode so it can run more flights with about two weeks’ notice.
The airline operated 709 flights in the three months to June, compared with 165,656 last year, and carried 117,000 passengers, compared with 26.4 million.
It slumped to a £324.5m pretax loss in its third quarter, from a £174.2m profit a year earlier. It said its loss in the current quarter would be smaller but did not make a prediction for the whole year.
The collapse in air travel has forced many airlines to announce big job losses. EasyJet plans to cut up to 727 pilot jobs – roughly one in three – and up to 1,200 cabin crew jobs across the UK. Overall, it plans 4,500 redundancies across Europe. The carrier also raised £450m from investors to shore up its cash reserves.
EasyJet called on the UK government to temporarily remove air passenger duty to aid the recovery of the airline industry.