EasyJet warns ‘too soon’ to assess omicron impact, cuts losses
LONDON: British airline EasyJet warned on Tuesday that it was “too soon” to assess the impact of the Omicron coronavirus variant on the aviation sector, after logging narrowing annual losses as skies reopened.
The emergence last week of Omicron, a new concerning Covid variant first detected in southern Africa, has prompted some nations including Britain to tighten travel curbs.
“It’s too soon to say what impact Omicron may have on European travel and any further short-term restrictions that may result,” EasyJet said in a results statement.
“However, we have prepared ourselves for periods of uncertainty such as this.”
The group also revealed there had been “some softening of trading” in the current first quarter, or three months to December.
EasyJet; however, forecast the fourth quarter would see “a return to near pre-pandemic” capacity levels as people take long-awaited summer holidays.
The group’s net loss meanwhile improved to £858 million ($1.1 billion, 1 billion euros) in the reporting year to September, aided by the reopening of air travel.
That contrasted with a vast loss of almost £1.1 billion last time around, when the coronavirus pandemic hammered demand for air travel.
Meanwhile, the revenues more than halved to £1.5 billion in its 2020/2021 financial year, but the group also drastically slashed costs.
“EasyJet is moving through the pandemic with renewed strength,” said Chief Executive Johan Lundgren.
He added that the business had been “transformed” by delivering “significant” cost savings and improving its network and flexibility.
“These initiatives alongside our strong, investment grade, balance sheet provide easyJet with renewed strength to manage any further Covid related travel disruptions, as well as a platform to fast track our growth and deliver strong shareholder returns.”
The CEO added this approach would enable the group to “accelerate” its recovery.
“In summary, we remain mindful that many uncertainties remain as we navigate the winter, but we see a unique opportunity for easyJet to win customers and take market share from rivals in this period,” Lundgren concluded.
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