‘Unparalleled challenges’ cost Jet2 £1m a day

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Jet2 lost nearly £1m a day in a year of “unparalleled challenges” for the travel industry.

The Leeds-headquartered travel group recorded pre-tax losses of £341m in the year to March, a period dominated by the pandemic effectively grounding an entire industry.

However Jet2 chairman Philip Meeson remains optimistic it “will emerge from this crisis an even stronger company”.

The Covid-19 crisis saw passenger numbers drop by 91% for Jet2.com – resulted in revenues reducing by £3bn in the year – with the business focusing on action to minimise losses and reduce cash burn.

The group was able to secure rapid access to £1.0bn of additional funding in the financial year primarily through shareholder and bank support, commenting it was “very grateful” for.

Despite the challenges facing the sector after the last 12 months, the Group launched its tenth UK operating base at Bristol Airport in November, commencing flights in July 2021. The business is now focused on growing its position from the UK’s third largest airline by number of passengers flown to be “the UK’s leading and best leisure travel business.”

Meeson said: “When the financial year began, very few people could have foreseen the prolonged impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

The business had been on track to “deliver another year of strong performance” following record results in its 2020 financial year, he said, before the pandemic arrived.

“However in what has proven to be a period of unparalleled operational and financial challenge” he continued, “the pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on Jet2 plc and the leisure ravel industry as a whole.”

Jet2’s fleet of aircraft were fully grounded for 29 weeks and operated with a significantly-reduced programme when flying was permitted.

Looking ahead Meeson added that “the first three months of the new financial year have seen little change in the significant challenges facing the leisure travel industry”, despite the successful vaccine roll out in the UK and Europe.

He added however that the recent announcements around “an expanded ‘green watch list’ and the potential relaxing of restrictions for those who are double vaccinated” was a welcome step in the right direction and showed a commitment from the UK Government to reopen international travel.

Bookings for summer 2022 are reportedly encouraging” but Meeson notes the results for the current financial will be “very much dependent on the level of flying permitted” for the rest of this summer.

“We believe opportunities for financially strong, resilient and trusted operators will only increase as restrictions are lifted.

Adding that the business is “confident that once normality returns, our Customers will be determined to enjoy the wonderful experience of a well-deserved Jet2 holiday and that Jet2.com and Jet2holidays will continue to have a thriving future and that Jet2 plc will emerge from this crisis an even stronger company.”