EasyJet has lauded a record surge in bookings in January as passengers prioritised travel for the coming year amid signs airlines are finally recovering from the pandemic downturn.
Despite the continuing cost of living crisis in the UK and abroad, the airline said high levels of demand and strong bookings meant it expected to beat market expectations for its profits this year.
EasyJet said it had seen the return of the traditional January boom in bookings, hitting record numbers on several days, as customers booked flights and package holidays for the months ahead and this summer.
The carrier said it continued to see strong demand for travel in the UK, while its easyJet holidays were already 60% sold for this summer.
The company said easyJet holidays remained the fastest-growing major holiday company in the UK, and said there had been a 161% year-on-year increase in number of customers.
It is anticipating 50% growth for its holidays business compared with a year earlier, well above the 30% year-on-year growth it had previously forecast.
Johan Lundgren, easyJet’s chief executive, said many customers “returned to make bookings during the traditional turn-of-year sale where we filled five aircraft every minute in the peak hours, which culminated in three record-breaking weekends for sales revenue this month”.
EasyJet struck a more optimistic tone than when it last updated investors in November, when it said bookings for peak periods including Christmas had bounced back but it was struggling to get enough passengers during quieter times.
It came as the carrier reported a headline pre-tax loss of £133m for the final three months of last year, although this was a significant improvement on the final quarter of 2021 when it made a £213m loss.
EasyJet carried almost 50% more passengers over the past three months compared with a year earlier and said it expected to cut its losses for the period from October to March.