British airline EasyJet has posted its first full-year loss in its 25-year history as a result of the coronavirus pandemic but laid out hope that the rollout of vaccines will help it bounce back strongly next year.
The airline reported a pretax loss of 1.27 billion pounds (1.7 billion US dollars) for the year through September as passenger numbers halved to 48.1 million.
The summer was particularly tough, with the airline flying just 38% of its planned capacity during the peak holiday season.
Last year, the group had made a profit of 430 million pounds for the previous full year period.
Chief Executive Johan Lundgren said the company had responded robustly and decisively to the crisis and said news of a possible vaccine had boosted demand.
“We saw a significant increase in bookings,” Lundgren told Sky News. “It was up 50 percent really throughout the week.”
Lundgren said demand had also risen for destinations when these were removed from quarantine lists.
Already this month two candidate vaccines have revealed positive results, which has raised hopes that everyday life around the world could be returning to normal in the first half of next year.
Still, the vaccine or vaccines are not expected to come through quickly enough to salvage the winter season for the aviation industry, with airlines everywhere slashing capacity.