Budget airline easyJet reported a near-doubling in losses today as the airline battled higher fuel prices and challenging consumer conditions.
Pre-tax losses increased 94% to £153m (€174.44m) in the six months to March 31 after the latest surge in the price of jet fuel cost it an extra £43m (€49m) and it absorbed an increase in air passenger duty.
Passenger numbers increased 12% to 23.9 million despite the disruption from the snow in December, which caused the widespread cancellation of flights.
Total revenues per seat fell by 2.1% as the group struggled to pass on the combination of rising fuel prices and increased air passenger duty in the weak consumer environment.
Chief executive Carolyn McCall said: "The past six months has been tough with sharply rising fuel costs combined with cautious behaviour by consumers and an adverse impact from taxes on passengers."
She warned that although easyJet has absorbed some of the price increases it may put up its prices if fuel prices remain high. If other airlines reduced the number of flights it would allow prices to rise, she said.
The group said it had made strong progress over the half-year and its performance in the UK was robust after strong growth at Gatwick, Manchester and Edinburgh airports.
Ancillary revenues from services such as checking in luggage returned to growth in the company's second quarter, it added.
Bookings for the summer season are in line with last year, with revenues per seat slightly higher than a year ago, it added.