EasyJet today issued a positive long-term forecast after confirming a record annual profit of £686 million.
Passenger carryings rose by 6% to 68.6 million in the year to September 30 as people took more holidays and city breaks, and the budget airline attracted increased numbers of business travellers.
The airline's pre-tax profit was up by £105 million or 18.1% year-on-year as revenue rose by 3.5% to £4.6 billion.
EasyJet is to boost its fleet with an additional 36 Airbus A230s in a 186-seat configuration for delivery between 2018 and 2021 as part of an agreement secured with Airbus two years ago. Thirty of the aircraft will be new generation A230neos.
Capacity is due to grow by as much as 7% in the current financial year with continued expansion of new bases in Hamburg, Amsterdam and Oporto as well as consolidating the airline’s market positions in the UK, Switzerland, France and Italy.
“Demand remains resilient and with forward bookings in line with last year, we view the future with confidence,” easyJet said in a statement.
Carolyn McCall, chief executive, of easyJet said: "Our outlook for the longer term is positive. We expect demand in our markets to be sustained and for easyJet to continue to be a winner in its markets.
“We will see passenger growth of 7% a year, sustaining margins through rigorous cost control and the benefit of fleet up-gauging, resulting in positive profit momentum.
“We remain totally focused on our network advantage, digital leadership and offering our customers great low fares and service.
“We continue to invest in profitable growth, ensuring our digital advantage and giving our customer good value fares."
The carrier reported a 58% increase in the sale of flexible business fares when compared to 2014.
Sales through Global Distribution Systems grew by 32% in the year as easyJet continued to leverage its relationships with Travel Management Companies.
Direct bookings from business customers also went up by 30%.
“EasyJet continues to see opportunities to sell its business product across Europe and we have recently strengthened our corporate sales capability through a new market, customer and industry structure,” the airline said.
A substantial investment is the airline’s digital capability is planned over the next three years.
“Our initial focus will be on enhancing the digital customer interface, to be delivered by summer 2016, followed by the development of support systems that will lead to easyJet having the first fully-integrated e-commerce platform in the airline industry,” the airline revealed.
“In the longer term we are committing to the acceleration of our use of data science to improve efficiency, increase revenue and drive greater customer satisfaction.
“The digital programme will offer increasing amounts of personalisation, introducing a more relevant booking journey based on previous behaviour to drive higher footfall, higher conversion rates and higher attachment rates.
“It will also enable greater self-management capability through the entire journey chain, from booking to check-in, through the airport and in the event of disruption.
“We are subsequently building an e-commerce platform that will give us a competitive advantage for the long term. Its primary objective is to give us significantly better flexibility and capability than we currently have, specifically around our ability to offer customers bespoke, attractive options.
“Lastly, we have started to explore ways to innovate in other areas across the business. In June we showcased new technology such as engineering drones and prognostics software. Looking to the future, we are investing in research around Artificial Intelligence to exploit the large amounts of data generated by our operations.”
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