No-frills carrier easyJet has reported a rise in bookings for summer 2019, despite consumer jitters over the outcome of Brexit.
At a time when high street sales are stalling in the run-up to 29 March, the airline used its annual results to say that forward business for the first half of 2019 to date was in line with 2018 comparisons.
But it said summer demand was “slightly ahead” – a scenario it described as “promising”.
EasyJet said its Brexit preparations were on track – operating via airlines in the UK, Switzerland and Austria.
The company is seeking majority European Economic Area ownership – which excludes the UK – to help achieve that with the figure currently at 47%.
It said: “Both the EU and the UK have said that their objective is to maintain flights between the EU and the UK, whatever the Brexit outcome.
“This gives easyJet confidence that flying rights will be maintained, and it continues to work with EU institutions, EU member states and the UK to ensure that this is achieved.”
Its results covering the year to 30 September showed its headline pre-tax profit measure rising to £578m – a rise of 41% on the previous 12 months.
Reported pre-tax profits were 13% higher – mainly reflecting the company’s acquisition of part of Air Berlin’s operations at Berlin Tegel airport, which resulted in a £152m hit.
EasyJet said it carried a record number of passengers – 88.5 million, a rise of more than 10%.
The figure was boosted by the collapse of rival Monarch just over a year ago, the start of Berlin Tegel flights and a stronger portfolio of destinations.
That was despite disruption from air traffic control strikes on the continent.
Shares rose more than 2% on opening after the company said it was proposing a 43% rise in its dividend.
However, sentiment later turned sour with the stock over 2% lower on the day as attention turned to forward guidance on revenues which remained unchanged.
Chief executive Johan Lundgren said: “EasyJet has delivered a great performance during the year, growing headline profit before tax by 41%, once again flying a record number of passengers at our highest ever annual load factor.”