Easyjet reports rise in passenger numbers

Low-cost airline easyJet today said its planes were fuller in September after it flew 4.2 million passengers during the month.

The carrier’s load factor of 86.9% was almost two percentage points higher than the same month a year earlier and better than the 84.1% seen for the last year.

Passenger numbers rose 22.1% on a year ago as Luton-based easyJet benefited from its acquisition of GB Airways from British Airways, as well as promotions and sales.

EasyJet carried out heavy promotional activity in June and July with up to 20% off two million seats – a strategy aimed at boosting traffic in the autumn.

The airline is being hit by high oil prices and the company recently warned that annual profits could be as much as 42% lower than last year as it faced up to an increase of £185m (€239m) in its annual fuel bill.

It hopes to offset more than 50% of the price hikes through revenues growth and cost savings and has vowed to be “relentless” in addressing costs and efficiency.

The company has cut capacity by 12% at Stansted this winter to focus on Gatwick and the GB Airways business. The carrier recently launched a new route to Istanbul, bringing the total number of routes from Gatwick to 51 this winter.

EasyJet did not provide any comment on its trading performance in September.

Last week, British Airways said it carried 5.6% fewer passengers last month than in September 2007 and added that trading conditions continued to be “challenging”.

A total of nearly 2.8 million passengers flew with BA in September, compared with more than 2.96 million in September 2007.

BA said forward bookings were being affected “by the increased anxiety in financial markets and by the uncertain economic outlook”.

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