Soaring fuel costs have almost doubled half-year losses at budget carrier Easyjet, but the firm is still forecasting higher profits.
Easyjet expects full-year profits to rise
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.
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.
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.