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EasyJet reveals record loss, will buy bigger planes to cut costs

Budget airline easyJet moves to lower operating costs by ordering bigger planes after it posted a wider first-half loss.

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EasyJet reveals record loss, will buy bigger planes to cut costs

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Europe’s second largest budget airline, easyJet, suffered a record loss for the winter period partly linked to the fall in the value of the pound after the Brexit vote.

The late timing of Easter this year also had a negative impact on its results for the six months to the end of March.

The headline loss before tax rose to 212 million pounds (247 million euros) compared to a loss of 21 million pounds a year ago

The news sent its shares down 7.2 percent. They had risen around 40 percent in the three month period before the update.

Bigger jets

At the same time easyJet revealed plans to step up its efforts to reduce operating costs by ordering bigger planes – converting part of an order for Airbus A320s to the larger A321s.

In terms of seat sales it said bookings for the summer are ahead of last year.

“Looking ahead, we are seeing an improving revenue per seat trend as well as the continued reduction of competitor capacity growth” Chief Executive Carolyn McCall said. “Cost performance for the full year will continue to be strong.”

Plane dealing

The airline said it will take 30 A321neo planes with 235 seats from next summer, instead of 30 smaller A320neo planes. The larger planes will enable it to reduce costs by about 8-9 percent compared with the 186-seater A320neo.

Together with plans to exit some operating leases, that means easyJet now expects to have 343 planes in its fleet in 2021, versus a previous plan for 357. Its capital expenditure plans will come down by 250 million pounds (290 million euros) over the next three years.

Speaking to reporters and analysts about the results, easyJet Chief Executive Carolyn McCall said she hopes consolidation takes place in the European airlines market and – no big surprise – confirmed her company certainly would not be buying Alitalia or Air Berlin.