easyJet sees Omicron hit short-term ahead of summer recovery

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An EasyJet airliner lands at Son Sant Joan airport in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, April 1, 2021. REUTERS/Enrique Calvo

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LONDON, Jan 27 (Reuters) – British airline easyJet (EZJ.L) said the Omicron variant of COVID-19 was impacting its performance this quarter, but it expects to see strong demand this summer when its capacity will be close to pre-pandemic levels.

The company said on Thursday it flew 64% of pre-pandemic capacity in its first quarter to the end of December, but its 77% load factor missed its forecast by more than 80% after Omicron reduced demand. customers in December.

Chief executive Johan Lundgren said bookings surged in Britain earlier this month when travel restrictions were eased and rose again when the government said testing requirements would end next month.

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“We expect a strong summer ahead, with pent-up demand which will see easyJet return to near 2019 capacity levels with particularly strong UK beach and leisure routes,” he said.

The airline said it had around 67% of pre-pandemic capacity on sale for the current quarter, with the level falling from around 50% in January.

In November, before Omicron’s impact was clear, easyJet had forecast capacity this quarter to be around 70% of pre-pandemic levels.

The group’s total revenue for its first quarter rose to 805 million pounds ($1.08 billion) from 165 million pounds a year ago, easyJet said, while its overall pre-tax loss for the quarter was cut nearly in half to 213 million pounds.

($1 = 0.7450 pounds)

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Reporting by Paul Sandle; edited by Guy Faulconbridge

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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