TRAVEL group Jet2 saw its profits soar in the six months ended September 30, despite taking a £14 million hit from the summer’s air traffic control chaos and wildfires and flooding on Greek islands.

In what was a strong first half of its financial year, Jet2 saw group operating profit increase by 19% to £617 million from £516.6m for the same period last year while and pre-tax profit saw a 47% hike to £660.5m from £450.7m for the same six months in 2022. Revenue came in at £4.4 billion for the six months, up by nearly a quarter compared with the first half.

The company attributed its performance partly to the average price of a Jet2holiday package rising 11% to £855 during the period and the fact that people were reluctant to cut back on holidays despite being hit by higher bills over the last two years.

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Declaring that it is “on track” to deliver full-year profits of around £500m despite “well-publicised external challenges”, Jet2 pointed to “offering the right product for tough times” as a successful formula.

Against summer 2022, seat capacity increased 7% and the business achieved an average load factor of 90.7%. Jet2 also attracted more higher margin package holiday passengers, with this increasing by 4.9 percentage points to 70.8%.

While cautioning that winter bookings had slowed slightly in recent weeks with average load factors down by 1.3 percentage points compared with this time last year, Jet2 insisted that pricing to date remains “robust” and that traditionally over 40% of winter bookers are made between January and March.

Looking ahead to summer 2024, current capacity, at 17.19 million seats, is about 12% higher than summer 2023. “Bookings and pricing at this early stage are encouraging, with average load factors two percentage points ahead of summer 2023 at the same point,” Jet2 noted.

Steve Heapy, chief executive of Leeds-based Jet2 plc said: “We are pleased to have delivered another strong financial performance during the first half of the financial year, despite the well-publicised external challenges faced. This clearly demonstrates that our end-to-end package holiday is a popular and resilient product and is the right product for price-conscious customers.”

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Noting that Jet2’s “customer first ethos runs deep throughout our company culture”, he added: “We remain confident that as a customer-focused and much trusted holiday provider, our customers will continue to travel with us to the sun spots of the Mediterranean, the Canary Islands and to European leisure cities and that we can continue to deliver on our long-term strategy to be the UK’s leading and best leisure travel business.”

Jet2 currently operates from 10 bases across the UK – Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds Bradford, London Stansted, Manchester and Newcastle. Operations at Liverpool John Lennon Airport will commence in March 2024.