The owner of Jet2holidays and Jet2 saw summer half-year travel division profits edge up by 2% to almost £340 million with annual income forecasts expected to be “significantly exceeded.”
But the boss of Dart Group called for a “pragmatic and balanced” Brexit deal to ensure consumer demand is maintained while highlighting other industry headwinds.
The modest increase in total pre-tax profitability reflected a later booking pattern as customer demand strengthened throughout the course of the summer season, according to executive chairman Philip Meeson.
“Despite customer booking trends being later than in previous years, overall passenger volumes for summer 2019 have been pleasing,” he said.
The company reported a 17% rise package holidaymakers to 2.71 million in the six months to September 30 over the same period last year.
The number of passengers taking Jet2 flights grew by 8% to 4.75 million.
Overall leisure travel revenue grew by 17% to £2.5 billion as the fleet expanded by ten to 100 aircraft for summer 2019 with a pre-tax profit of £337 million, up from £329.5 million.
The total passenger increase of 13% was slightly behind the seat capacity rise of 14%.
Average load factors slipped back as a result to 93.1% against 94.4% in the equivalent period in 2018.
Meeson said: “With leisure travel bookings continuing to strengthen and notwithstanding the important post-Christmas booking period that is still to come, the board now expects current market expectations for group profit before FX [foreign exchange] revaluation and taxation for the year ending 31 March 2020 to be significantly exceeded.
“Looking further ahead, whether the currently encouraging consumer demand for our products remains buoyant in the medium term is unclear as we believe that much will depend on the UK government securing a pragmatic and balanced Brexit agreement with the EU.
“In addition, the travel industry in general continues to be subject to a range of cost pressures in relation to fuel, foreign exchange, carbon and other operating charges.
“These, together with the necessary continued investment in our own products and operations, including that required to attract and retain colleagues, are headwinds that our leisure travel business faces.”
He added: “Our strategy for the long term remains consistent – to grow both our flight-only and package holiday products.
“With our customer focused approach and clear market positioning, we continue to have confidence in the resilience of both our leisure travel and distribution & logistics businesses.”
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