EasyJet says summer bookings gain despite Brexit fear

LONDON • EasyJet plc delivered a surprisingly upbeat assessment of the impact of Brexit on the European travel market, saying that not only will flights continue unimpeded, but that bookings for next year are actually higher.

The company’s fiscal first half, which ends on March 31, two days after Britain is due to quit the European Union (EU), is showing “solid demand”, with 50% of seats already sold, while bookings for the peak summer season are slightly ahead of last year, Luton, England-based EasyJet said yesterday.

CEO Johan Lundgren told Bloomberg TV that though he’d like to see more “certainty and clarity” over Brexit, there’s no evidence that Brits plan to travel less, even after a reduction in their spending power following a slump in the pound.

There’s little risk of disruption to flights, with both the UK and EU having announced measures to maintain services in the event of a no-deal split, he said, adding that EasyJet has prepared for “every possible scenario”. The CEO revealed that EasyJet has amped up its currency hedging as the pound is roiled by uncertainty over Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal. That may calm investors after the stock fell 6.6% last Thursday as UK ministers sought to derail the deal, sending pound plunging.

EasyJet is close to achieving majority ownership by nationals of the European Economic Area, excluding the UK. That’s important because such a majority will be required for it to carry on operating flights within the EU after Brexit. — Bloomberg