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EasyJet adds flights as summer bookings rise

EasyJet planes are parked at the Berlin Schoenefeld airport

British low-cost airline easyJet (EZJ.L) plans to fly at 40 per cent of its capacity over the rest of the summer thanks to stronger than expected bookings despite continuing pandemic uncertainty.

A tentative return to air travel in Europe from mid-June after a three-month pause brought airlines to their knees has been threatened by a fresh rise in COVID-19 cases, with the UK already reintroducing travel restrictions to Spain.

The airline also said its cash burn for the three months ended June 30 was better than expected, at 774 million pounds rather than the 1 billion pounds guided, and that its fourth quarter loss would be smaller than the 324.5 million pound loss booked in the third quarter.

“An encouraging report for the return to service, with healthy load factors,” said Bernstein analyst Daniel Roeska.

EasyJet, which said in May it would need to cut 4,500 jobs, has taken a more cautious approach than rivals. Europe’s largest budget carrier, Ryanair, said its capacity would rise to 60 per cent in August and 70 per cent in September, while smaller player Wizz Air (WIZZ.L) is at about 70 per cent.

Johan Lundgren, easyJet’s chief executive, said beach destinations like Faro and Nice were popular but the market would remain unpredictable.

“There still is uncertainty you know, also in September, and there’s very little visibility for the whole of the industry on what’s going to come in the winter,” he told reporters on Tuesday.

Ryanair was forced to cut its annual passenger target last week, warning of the impact of a potential second wave of the virus.

Ryanair (RYA.I) flew 4.4 million passengers in July, a broadly expected 70% year-on-year fall after it operated around 40 per cent of its normal July schedule with a 72 per cent load factor, a measure of how well an airline fills its available seats. On 1 July, Ryanair said it expected to fly more than 4.5 million passengers during the first month back in the sky.

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