LONDON -- Europe's second-largest budget airline, easyJet (LSE: EZJ ) , which now operates over 600 routes across 30 countries, is currently up 6% on the release of its first-half results, to March 31, 2013.
Total revenue increased 9.3%, to £1,601 million, and losses over the winter period -- traditionally when short-haul airlines fare badly -- were reduced by 45%, to £61 million. This reduction was helped, the company says, by Easter falling a week earlier than in 2012, which moved around £25 million of revenue into the first half, and was also driven by changes made to its network and scheduling.
The earlier Easter will, of course, deny that revenue to the second half, but easyJet says that 50% of second half seats are now already booked, and that it anticipates trading in the second half of the year to be in line with management's expectations.
Commenting on the results, Carolyn McCall, easyJet's chief executive, said:
easyJet delivered a strong first half performance, demonstrating the Company's structural advantage in the European short-haul market against both legacy and low cost competition, and a continuing resilience against a challenging European macro-economic environment.
Our performance reflects measurable progress against easyJet's four key strategic objectives that have been amply demonstrated by a significant reduction in the loss for the first half and significant improvement in ROCE over the same period.
While there is always the potential for unexpected events to impact short term financial performance, the outlook for the second half of the financial year combined with the strong reduction in first half losses means that easyJet expects to deliver improved returns and profitability for the year ending 30 September 2013.
easyJet's share price continues to take off, cruising some 120% higher than this time last year, and almost 200% higher than two years ago. Whether it's now reached a longer-term ceiling or can climb even higher remains to be seen, but City forecasts of close to 30% for easyJet's earnings-per-share growth this year suggest that the upward trends isn't over.
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