* Q1 revenue up 9.2 pct to 833 mln pounds
* Passenger numbers up 6.2 pct to 13.7 mln pounds
* Sees H1 seasonal loss between 50-75 mln pounds
* Shares up 3.6 percent, hit fresh record high
(Adds company, analyst comment, shares, details)
By Rhys Jones
LONDON, Jan 24 British budget airline easyJet
said quarterly revenue rose 9.2 percent, after it
attracted more business travellers by adding flights on routes
where rivals have cut capacity.
EasyJet also benefited from extra services, such as flexible
tickets and allocated seating, it has started offering in a bid
to steal business customers from legacy carriers such as IAG's
Demand for flights between London, Geneva, Milan, Paris and
Rome were especially strong during the three months to December
- easyJet's first quarter, a spokesman said on Thursday.
Competitors have been struggling with high fuel costs, weak
consumer confidence and the euro zone crisis. Some ceased
operations last year. Others have cut routes, leaving gaps that
low-cost airlines have been quick to exploit.
"With around 80 percent of (fiscal) first-half seats now
booked, easyJet expects to contain first-half loss before tax to
between 50 million and 75 million pounds ($119 million) ... this
assumes a normal level of disruption in the second quarter,"
chief executive Carolyn McCall said on Thursday.
Prior to its trading statement, easyJet was expected to
report a first-half pretax loss of 109 million pounds, according
to Thomson Reuters data. The airline makes its profit in its
second half, which includes the busy summer holiday period.
Its shares were up 3.7 percent to 887.0 pence by 1020 GMT,
down from an earlier record high at 897.5 pence and valuing the
group at around 3.5 billion pounds.
Europe's second-largest budget airline behind Ryanair
said first-quarter revenue rose to 833 million pounds
($1.2 billion), with passenger numbers up 6.2 percent to 13.7
million. Costs per seat, excluding fuel, rose 0.5 percent.
The airline, which will start services between London,
Manchester and Moscow later this year, said it was now carrying
10 million business passengers annually.
Panmure analysts said the revenue guidance was "very
positive" and retained a 'buy' recommendation for the stock.
Several carriers including Scandinavian group SAS,
German airline Lufthansa, Air France-KLM,
and IAG's Spanish carrier Iberia have already cut thousands of
jobs. This week, London-listed Flybe said it would axe
10 percent of its British workforce.
EasyJet's load factor - a measure of how many seats are sold
- rose 1 percentage point to 88.6 percent in the quarter.
The carrier, which has hedged 78 percent of its fuel
requirement for 2012/13, expects fuel costs to be 5-25 million
pounds higher in the current year.
Disruption related to the recent snowfall across Europe led
to 200 cancellations, mainly in France and Switzerland, at a
cost of around 1.5 million pounds, it said.
Last year, the company posted a first-half loss of 112
($1 = 0.6313 pound)
(Editing by Dan Lalor and Rosalba O'Brien)