Easy­Jet hits out at min­is­ters de­spite ex­pand­ing sched­ule

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Business - By Oliver Gill and Si­mon Foy

THE boss of easy­Jet has warned that the avi­a­tion in­dus­try re­mains in cri­sis de­spite ex­pand­ing his air­line’s sum­mer sched­ule to meet a rise in de­mand.

Jo­han Lund­gren hit out at min­is­ters for fail­ing to prop up the in­dus­try with ex­tra sup­port af­ter planes were grounded world­wide, say­ing a cut in air pas­sen­ger duty could have pro­vided a vi­tal crutch. But the air­line says sum­mer book­ings are per­form­ing well and it ex­pects to fly about 40pc of nor­mal ca­pac­ity be­tween July and Septem­ber, up from the 30pc it pre­dicted in June.

Crit­i­cis­ing Boris John­son’s avi­a­tion pol­icy, Mr Lund­gren said: “There has been noth­ing. And that is very dis­ap­point­ing. I don’t think the mo­ment has gone be­cause we are still in cri­sis; this is still a very dif­fi­cult cir­cum­stance.

“We con­tinue to urge the Gov­ern­ment to come out with a pro­gramme and ex­plain what they want avi­a­tion in the UK to look like in the fu­ture.”

The lack of state sup­port did not stop easy­Jet from stay­ing rel­a­tively up­beat about pas­sen­ger de­mand.

The bud­get air­line is burn­ing through less cash than pre­vi­ously es­ti­mated now its planes have re­turned to the skies, Mr Lund­gren said.

In­vestors took heart at the com­pany’s quar­terly re­sults, which in­cluded a £324m pre-tax loss for the three months to June com­pared to a £174m profit for the same pe­riod last year.

Since the car­rier restarted flights in mid-June, de­mand has picked up. In the last two weeks of the quar­ter, it car­ried 117,000 pas­sen­gers in the 132,000 seats it had avail­able.

The higher-than-ex­pected de­mand rep­re­sents a rare pos­i­tive up­date for the be­lea­guered avi­a­tion in­dus­try, with fears grow­ing that a sec­ond wave of virus cases in Europe will prompt fur­ther travel re­stric­tions and de­lay any re­cov­ery.

Jo­han Lund­gren, the boss of easy­Jet, has called for more sup­port from the Gov­ern­ment

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