£700million loss for Gatwick's largest airline, easyJet

Easyjet's passenger numbers fell by 89% for the six months to the end of March. But bosses say they'll be ramping up operations to meet summer demand. Credit: PA

EasyJet expects winter losses of more than £700 million as it prepares to ramp up operations to meet summer demand.

The pre-tax loss of between £690 million and £730 million revealed in a trading update today was described by the UK budget carrier as being “slightly better than expectations”.

Passenger numbers for the six months to March 31 fell by 89% year-on-year to 4.1 million as capacity was trimmed to 6.4 million seats.

The airline added: “We maintain significant flexibility to ramp capacity up or down quickly depending upon the unwinding of travel restrictions and expected demand across our European network.”

A reduced schedule will continue to be operated throughout much of the first quarter of the year but the airline said it is “ready to ramp up our operations to match the level of demand we see in the market”.

Chief executive Johan Lundgren said: “EasyJet has maintained a disciplined approach to flying during the first half of our financial year, resulting in a first half loss and cash burn better than expectations.

Full results for the six months ending March 31 are due to be released on May 20.