October 10, 2008

EasyJet Hopeful Amid Global Gloom ; AVIATION

Low cost airline easyJet (EZJ), which operates several services out of Birmingham International Airport, has said it expects the industry to face a "very tough" consumer environment next year.

Chief executive Andy Harrison said that carriers faced higher fuel costs as the US dollar strengthened against the euro and airlines which did not hold enough cash to foot the bill would not survive.

"The world is gloomy out there," he told a press briefing.

Despite this, he said that easyJet had no plans to cancel orders for new planes it has placed with Airbus. The company is aiming to increase its total number of planes to 200 by 2011.

In the upcoming winter season, Mr Harrison said he expected airlines to cut the number of seats they sold by between eight and 10 per cent, though this figure could rise if more airlines go out of business.

EasyJet will keep its capacity stable from the year-earlier period, he added. Meanwhile, the load factor, or the average percentage of seats filled on each flight, in coming months would be "very similar" to last year, he added.

A raft of airlines have already fallen victim to rising fuel costs. Business-class only airline Silverjet went bust in May, followed by Zoom Airlines and XLAirways just last month.

(c) 2008 Birmingham Post; Birmingham (UK). Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.