Bumpy flight but easyjet is staying in town

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Budget airline easyJet says it is committed to staying in Luton as the company sees profits drop by 28% .

Chief executive Carolyn McCall said it had been a year of “significant challenges” after terror attacks across Europe, Egypt and Tunisia, air traffic control strikes in France, political turmoil in Turkey, and intense competition in the sector.

The group posted a 27.9% drop in pre-tax profits to £495 million for the year to September 30.

It is also braced for another £90 million impact from falling sterling.

But this will be partly offset by lower fuel costs.

Ms McCall said the group had delivered a “resilient performance”, with a record 73.1 million passengers carried, although revenues still fell 0.4% to £4.67 billion after it cut fares.

The firm revealed plans for a group-wide review to make easyJet a “simpler, more efficient” company and to deliver “meaningful” savings.

More details are yet to be revealed, but the group said it was not about job cuts, with the firm taking on another 900 staff and more aircraft from 250 to more than 300.

Ms McCall said the review was a “redesign around using technology and artificial intelligence”.

EasyJet said nearly half of its growth will be in the UK in 2017. But it is setting up a new operating company in mainland Europe and applying for a new licence to continue flying within the EU after Brexit.

Ms McCall said easyJet’s headquarters would remain in Luton.

It plans to increase its capacity by 9% in the coming year, with “double digit” growth in London and other bases, such as Manchester, Venice and Amsterdam.

“In a tougher operating environment strong airlines like easyJet will get stronger, and we will build on our already well-established network,” Ms McCall said.