Low-cost airline easyJet said passenger demand was hit by the Omicron variant last month – but added it had seen a rebound in bookings following the move to scrap Covid travel testing.
The airline said Omicron saw its load factor, a measure of how well its planes are filled, drop to 67% in December after recovering more than 80% in October and November.
Despite the impact of Omicron, easyJet cut overall pre-tax losses in its first quarter to the end of December to £213m from £423m a year earlier.
There has been a ‘radical shift’ in bookings since the January 5 announcement that pre-departure Covid testing would be scrapped for fully vaccinated arrivals entering England, with demand further boosted by news last week on unrestricted travel from February 11.
While Omicron is expected to continue to have a short-term impact on its performance in the quarter ending March, easyJet The flight schedule will “fall from just 50% of 2019 levels in January to near pre-pandemic levels between July and September.”
Managing Director Johan Lundgren said: ” easyJet produced a significant year-over-year improvement in the first quarter, despite the short-term impact of Omicron in December.
He added: “Booking volumes have surged in the UK following the welcome reduction in travel restrictions announced on January 5, which were maintained and then tightened by the UK government’s decision earlier this week to remove all testing requirements.
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“We believe that travel testing on our network will soon be a thing of the past. We anticipate a strong summer ahead, with pent-up demand that will see easyJet return to near 2019 capacity levels with particularly strong UK beach and leisure routes.
The airline launched a payday promotion in January with 800,000 seats from £19.99 – including on February mid-term.
The sale covers travel from February 1 to September 30, 2022, giving customers the option to book a last-minute winter break or plan ahead and look forward to the long-awaited summer vacation.
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