Summer 2021 optimism for listed airline owner

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The Leeds-based owner of airline Jet2 says it expects its flights for next summer should be “close to summer 2019 seat capacity levels”, despite the chaos inflicted by COVID-19.

And Dart Group has announced it will also be changing its name – to Jet2 plc, to better reflect its long-term strategy.

Philip Meeson, executive chairman, will address the company’s annual general meeting later today.

He will report: “After grounding our aircraft fleet in mid-March, we were pleased to resume operations on 15 July, gradually ramping up summer 2020 flying to approximately 40% of our planned destinations for August.

“Whilst there have been setbacks, such as the imposition of quarantines and evolving guidance from the UK Government, we have been satisfied with the average load factors and financial contribution achieved to date and will continue to add further capacity, as appropriate.

“Winter 20/21 forward bookings have yet to match our revised on-sale seat capacity, with customer bookings displaying a shorter lead time than in previous years. 

“Therefore, pricing for both our leisure travel products – end-to-end package holidays with Jet2holidays and flight-only seats with – will need to remain consistently enticing.

“For summer 2021, we plan to fly to all our popular leisure destinations with an appropriate, tailored level of service, which we anticipate will be close to summer 2019 seat capacity levels.

“Bookings to date are encouraging, with average load factors ahead of the same point last year and package holiday customer numbers as a proportion of total departing customers showing a material increase.”

Dart Group says its Bank of England Covid Corporate Financing Facility of up to £300m of funding is currently unutilised.

Its Board will provide a further trading update on publication of its interim results on 19 November 2020.

Following the sale of its Distribution and Logistics business, Fowler Welch, earlier in the year, the company has applied to Companies House to change its name to Jet2 plc.

The business explains the name change will reflect the continued focus on its longer-term strategy of growing its leisure travel business.

Its update today also reports that Stephen Heapy has been appointed chief executive officer of the company. Meeson will remain executive chairman.