A number of easyJet passengers will end up flying with the airline on high-end commuter jets from Gatwick airport this summer, enjoying around 40 inches of leg room and no middle seats.
The low-cost airline has chartered in five extra jets, including one from Cologne-based WDL Aviation, for the crucial summer period.
WDL Aviation’s Embraer E-190 commuter plane will be jetting off from Gatwick under the easyJet brand from 1 August, and all the 100 seats have more legroom than easyJet’s standard seat pitch of 29 inches.
In a trading update today, easyJet revealed that its passenger numbers swelled by 8 per cent to 26.4million in the last quarter.
Luxury: A number of easyJet passengers will get the chance to fly with the airline from Gatwick airport on a high-end commuter jet this summer
Commenting on the luxury commuter jets in operation at the airline this summer, easyJet said: ‘A small number of flights will be operated by wet lease aircraft over the peak summer period as we continue to strengthen our operational resilience to help alleviate the impact of air space congestion for our customers.
Seating maters: 100-seat Embraer E-190 WDL Aviation commuter jet being used by easyJet this summer
‘To tackle this industry issue we have increased the number of aircraft in the network including leasing four Smartlynx Airbus A320 aircraft with two based at Belin Tegel and two in Milan, and one Embraer E-190 by WDL which will be based in London Gatwick.
‘We would like to reassure passengers that they will receive the same high levels of service, safety and care as they would experience on an easyJet aircraft.
‘The safety and well-being of our passengers and crew is always our highest priority.’
Rising: Budget airline easyJet saw its passenger numbers swell by 8 per cent to 26.4million in the last quarter
Today’s trading update from the group also revealed that the airline’s revenues increased by 11.4 per cent to £1.8billion over the period, despite ‘Brexit-related consumer uncertainty.’
The group saw its ‘ancillary’ revenue, which is cash from seating allocation and baggage fees, rise by 14.3 per cent to £374million over the period.
EasyJet also announced it had poached rival Ryanair’s operations chief, Peter Bellew, to become its new chief operating officer.
The no-frills carrier said this year’s later Easter boosted revenues by around £40million.
The group said it remained on track for annual pre-tax profits of between £400million and £440million, with 78 per cent of flights for the second half now sold.
The airline’s load factor, which is a measure of how well it fills its planes, fell by 1.7 percentage points to 91.7 per cent, partly due to a strong performance a year earlier when it benefited from the demise of rival Monarch.
Johan Lundgren, easyJet’s chief executive, said: ‘EasyJet’s third-quarter performance was robust and despite the tougher macroeconomic conditions was in line with expectations.’
The group’s share price rose by more than 3 per cent this morning to trade around the 1,070p mark.
The results follow Ryanair’s warning earlier this week that delays to the return of Boeing’s 737 Max jet will hurt its summer 2020 schedule.
Ed Monk, associate director from Fidelity Personal Investing, said: ‘Fears that easyJet would have to warn on profits proved wide of the mark.
‘In its third quarter update today, the low-cost airline restated full year guidance for pre-tax profit of £400-440m. There was a small increase in all-important revenue per seat and an encouraging 4% fall in cost per seat, once fuel costs are stripped out.
‘The calendar has also helped the latest numbers, with Easter and other holidays falling in the period. EasyJet boasted of “significantly” reduced cancelations in the period but it could still be a tough summer, with staff at Stanstead threatening to strike over pay. The company hinted at the “air traffic environment remaining challenging”.
‘As part of Brexit preparation, easyJet also confirmed it is now more than 50% owned by EU nationals, excluding UK nationals. In the case of No Deal, it needs to be majority owned by EU investors to stay within the rules of its licence.’
‘Ancillary’ revenue: easyJet saw its ‘ancillary’ revenue, which is cash from seating allocation and baggage fees, rise by 14.3 per cent to £374million over the quarter