Jet2 slumps to first-half loss of £111.2 million after passenger numbers plummet

19 November 2020, 09:02 | Updated: 19 November 2020, 09:07

Holiday and airline firm Jet2 has slumped to a first-half loss
Holiday and airline firm Jet2 has slumped to a first-half loss. Picture: PA

By Megan White

Holiday and airline firm Jet2 has slumped to a first-half loss of £111.2 million as passenger numbers plummeted amid the coronavirus pandemic.

But the travel firm said it remained cautious over next summer despite recent positive developments on a coronavirus vaccine.

The Jet2holidays and Jet2.com firm - formerly called Dart Group - reported operating losses of £111.2 million for the six months to September 30, against earnings of £361.5 million the previous year.

In what would normally be its busiest period, the airline flew just 990,000 passengers in the half year, down from 10.07 million a year earlier as plunging demand and restrictions.

Jet2 warned over further losses in the traditionally quieter half of the financial year and cautioned that it expects to slash its winter 2020-21 services by half year-on-year.

Jet2 chairman Philip Meeson said: "Whilst the recent positive news about a potential vaccine was welcome, we continue our cautious approach to summer 2021."

But he added that current seat capacity is close to summer 2019 levels at this stage.

The pandemic has hit the aviation industry hard, with thousands of job losses.

On Tuesday, easyJet reported pre-tax losses of £1.27 billion for the year to September 30, marking the first loss in the airline's 25-year history.

It warned it expects to fly no more than around 20% of planned services in the first quarter of its year to next September as a relentless second wave of the pandemic batters demand.

EasyJet's losses compare with profits of £430 million the previous year.

On an underlying basis, easyJet reported pre-tax losses of £835 million against profits of £427 million the previous year, which was in line with expectations.

Johan Lundgren, easyJet chief executive, said the group had responded "robustly and decisively" to the crisis and cheered "welcome news" on a possible Covid-19 vaccine.

He said: "While we expect to fly no more than 20% of planned capacity for the first quarter of 2021, maintaining our disciplined approach to cash generative flying over the winter, we retain the flexibility to rapidly ramp up when demand returns.

"We know our customers want to fly with us and underlying demand is strong."

He added the group expected to "bounce back strongly".