EasyJet first half improves as Brits flee cold winter

LONDON Wed May 15, 2013 2:17am EDT

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LONDON May 15 (Reuters) - Low-cost airline easyJet roughly halved its losses in the first half, helped by Easter falling earlier than a year ago and strong bookings from customers wanting to escape recent cold weather in Britain and Northern Europe.

Europe's second-largest budget airline behind Ryanair reported a pretax loss of 61 million pounds ($93 million) for the six months to the end of March, a traditionally loss-making period.

The loss was at the lower end of its guidance of 60-65 million pounds and better than an analyst forecast for a loss of 64.5 million pounds, according to a Thomson Reuters analyst poll. It made a pretax loss of 112 million pounds for the same period a year ago.

The airline makes its profit in its second half, which includes the busy summer holiday period.

EasyJet said on Wednesday its total revenues grew 9.3 percent to 1.6 billion pounds, while revenue per seat grew 8.6 percent, better than the 6 to 8 percent it previously expected, driven by strong bookings in the run up to Easter.

Capacity on its flights rose by 3.3 percent, slightly short of its 3.5 percent forecast, it said, due to the bad weather causing a higher-than-expected number of cancellations.

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