EasyJet won’t axe flights from Bristol despite profit losses

8.5.2009   (This is Bristol)

Budget airline easyJet says it has no plans to axe further flights from Bristol
International Airport despite posting losses of almost £130 million in six months.

The firm, which operates 39 different routes from Lulsgate, (= Bristol) announced
yesterday that its losses had more than doubled to £129.8m in the six months to
March 31, compared with £48.4m a year ago. The carrier said the loss had been
driven by the soaring cost of fuel and the fact that Easter was later this year.

But easyJet boss Andy Harrison said current fuel prices and exchange rates would mean the
airline will make a profit over the year.

Mr Harrison said: “EasyJet is financially strong. It has good and well-established market positions.

“The board remains confident in easyJet‘s future prospects.”

The growth of budget airlines has been a key factor in the success of Bristol International Airport, which is easyJet‘s third largest hub after Gatwick and Luton.

But falling demand for air travel in the face of the credit crunch saw easyJet cut a route to Warsaw in November.  In April, German national carrier Lufthansa announced it was stopping
its flights to Frankfurt from Lulsgate, blaming half-empty flights on the decision.

Last month, it emerged the number of people using Bristol airport has dropped by 300,000 since the start of 2009.

In the first three months of this year, 1,029,786 people used the airport – a
21% drop on the 1.30 million travellers who used Lulsgate over the same period
in 2008.

People travelling through the airport in March dropped by a total of 23 per cent
compared to March 2008 – the fifth month in a row passenger numbers have fallen.

The airport is expected to submit its £100m planning application for expansion
North Somerset Council later this month.

A spokesman refused to confirm or deny reports that Lulsgate is up for sale by Australian owner Macquarie.

He said: “EasyJet has played an important role in increasing choice for air travellers from the
South West. The airline’s route network includes leisure and business destinations,
and is also well-used by inbound visitors to Bristol from other parts of the UK
and Europe.

“New routes to Corsica and Corfu will add to what is expected to be a busy summer
Bristol airport.”