LONDON (Reuters) - Low cost airline easyJet <EZJ.L> forecast annual profit at the upper end of expectations, as it benefited from robust flight demand and cancellations at bigger rival Ryanair <RYA.I> in 2018.
easyJet's confidence on Friday came as Ryanair <RYA.I> braced for strikes across six European countries, forcing flight cancellations that will disrupt the plans of 40,000 of its customers.
For the 12 months ended Sept. 30, easyJet said pre-tax profit would be between 570 million pounds and 580 million pounds, a rise of at least 40 percent on last year, and at the upper end of the 550-590 million pounds figure it gave in July.
It said trading continued to be positive.
But easyJet warned in its outlook that for the first-half of its 2019 financial year, revenue per seat would decrease by low to mid-single digits reflecting that in the same period last year it was helped by one-off issues, such as the bankruptcies of airlines Monarch and Air Berlin, and issues at Ryanair.
Ryanair has struggled with months of strikes, including Friday's which will affect about 10 percent of its flights, and after a year of management mis-steps that have pushed its share price down 23 percent in a year. That compares with a rise of 8 percent at easyJet.
easyJet said it would provide further details on its 2019 outlook when it announces full-year results on Nov. 20.
(Reporting by Sarah Young, editing by James Davey)