EasyJet has increased load factors at the expense of yield in the past year, but will continue to add capacity in 2018.
Sophie Dekkers, easyJet UK country director, told a Travel Weekly Business Breakfast in London: “On some key routes our yield has come down 30%. We’ve had too much capacity.
“We had to slash fares, particularly on beach routes into Europe.”
Dekkers said: “We reported a record [annual] load factor of 92.6% at the end of September, which is incredible given what has happened with sterling, with the Paris attacks, Nice and so on. But it has been at the expense of yield.
Yet she insisted: “We would rather be a problem to ourselves than let someone else do it. Demand is still there.”
Dekkers described the failure of UK airline Monarch in October as “not surprising” and said: “We certainly benefited from capacity coming out of the market.
“Over half of Monarch’s capacity was on five routes – Malaga, Alicante, Palma, Faro and Tenerife.
“We had 15% of our capacity on those routes and yields down 30%. Given Monarch’s massive exposure, the impact wasn’t surprising.
“Some capacity will be backfilled, but I don’t think it will be like for like. In destinations like Tenerife and Palma there wasn’t enough accommodation for the number of flights going in.”
Dekkers told the breakfast: “We’ve seen a switch away from Turkey and Egypt towards more safe destinations, with people flooding into Spain and Portugal.
“We’ve tried to find new destinations, so Seville is really popular now. Granada and Croatia have performed very well. Split airport is pretty well full next summer.”
But she insisted: “When destinations go through political disruption or terrorist activity, the UK bounces back quickly.
“As soon as Egypt [Sharm el Sheikh] re-opens [from the UK] we expect there will be demand.
“Hotels will be cheap and UK consumers are open to that. Other markets take a lot longer to recover.”
The UK Department for Transport continues to advise airlines against flying to Sharm el Sheikh, but says the decision is under “constant review”.
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