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EasyJet Plc posted a first-half loss as a spate of terrorist attacks undermined demand for flights and contributed to a Europe-wide capacity glut that’s weighing on fares and wiping out gains from cheap fuel.
EasyJet swung to a pretax loss of 24 million pounds ($35 million) from a profit of 7 million pounds a year earlier, it said in a statement Tuesday. Analysts had expected Europe’s second-biggest discount airline to report a shortfall of 25.7 million pounds, based on estimates collected by Bloomberg.
Luton, England-based EasyJet halted flights to Sinai after the bombing of a Russian tourist jet in October, while November’s Paris shootings and the March 22 attacks on Brussels have further weighed on sales. Third-quarter revenue per seat may decline seven percent as a result of the Belgian events, it said.
Chief Executive Officer Carolyn McCall said she’ll lift dividend payments and that EasyJet’s fiscal 2016 pretax profit should be in line with analyst forecasts. As of May 9, that figure was 721 million pounds, according to company-compiled data, down from a consensus of 738 million pounds as of Jan. 26.
“We are confident that over the full year we will again grow passenger numbers, revenue and profit,” McCall said, while cautioning that a “more competitive trading environment” is set to continue for the medium term as fuel prices remain low.
Shares of EasyJet declined as much as 1.4 percent and were trading 6 pence, or 0.4 percent, lower at 1,464 pence as of 8:07 a.m. in London. The stock has fallen 16 percent this year, valuing the company at 5.8 billion pounds.
EasyJet faces heightened competition as low-cost leader Ryanair Holdings Plc targets more major airports, as well as from an expansion of IAG SA’s Vueling discount-arm and makeovers at the no-frills units of Deutsche Lufthansa AG and Air France-KLM Group.
Lufthansa, Air France-KLM and British Airways-parent IAG have all in the past two weeks posted quarterly earnings that beat estimates, while warning of weakening fares as sales fail to keep pace with summer capacity increases. Ryanair posts earnings for the year ended March 31 on May 23.
EasyJet’s numbers took a 33 million pound hit from currency moves. The company plans to lift investor payouts to 50 percent of post-tax profit from 40 percent, subject to shareholder approval.
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