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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 May 2006, 09:00 GMT 10:00 UK
Fuel costs double loss at Easyjet
Easyjet plane
Easyjet expects full-year profits to rise
Soaring fuel costs have almost doubled half-year losses at budget carrier Easyjet, but the firm is still forecasting higher profits.

The carrier reported a pre-tax loss of 40.3m for the six months to 31 March, against a loss of 21.6m last year.

The figures were hit by a 49% rise in fuel costs, Easyjet said, and the later timing of this year's Easter weekend.

However, Easyjet said the loss was not as bad as feared, adding that full-year profits would be up by 10-15% on 2005.

We are conscious that we have a big summer ahead
Andy Harrison, Easyjet chief executive

Easyjet said it had managed to cut costs to help offset the rise in the price of fuel, and had also increased its sales of non-ticket items such as on-board food.

This had helped to keep first-half losses in check - at its annual general meeting in February the airline had predicted a loss of 45m.

'Competitive environment'

Easyjet makes most of its money during the peak holiday season of the summer months.

"We are conscious that we have a big summer ahead, that the price of oil remains a risk, and we continue to operate in a highly competitive environment," said Easyjet chief executive Andy Harrison.

"Notwithstanding these uncertainties, we now anticipate full-year passenger revenue per seat to be broadly in line with 2005, and expect ancillary revenue to grow at around 20% per seat for the full-year."

Overall, Easyjet said it expected full-year profit to be 10-15% higher than in 2005 when it reported a profit of 68m.

During the six months to March, Easyjet added 28 new routes and carried 14.1 million passengers, up 10.1% on the same period last year.

It is introducing a further eight new destinations during the summer, including Marrakech in Morocco.

Earlier this year, Easyjet became the subject of takeover rumours after Icelandair-owner FL Group raised its stake in the low-cost carrier.

However, the bid talk ended in April when FL Group sold its stake in Easyjet.

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