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EasyJet ups profit forecast despite travel disruption

© AFP/File | EasyJet and European rivals have been hit by strikes from air traffic controllers and bad weather

LONDON (AFP) - 

EasyJet expects full-year profit to be higher than expected as increased passenger numbers offsets disruption from striking air traffic controllers and bad weather, the British no-frills airline said on Wednesday.

EasyJet and European rivals have been hit in particular by striking French air traffic controllers.

Alongside Wednesday's earnings update, chief executive Johan Lundgren told reporters that EasyJet would be filing a legal complaint to the European Commission over the strikes, "most likely next week".

This follows similar action by Ryanair and IAG, owner of British Airways and Iberia -- while the European Union has vowed not to limit air traffic controllers' right to strike.

For its full-year ending in September, EasyJet said it expects pre-tax profit of between £550 million ($719 million, 618 million euros) and £590 million.

This compares to a previous guidance of between £530 million and £580 million.

In reaction, EasyJet's share price rose almost three percent in early deals.

"With EasyJet on track for a positive summer trading period during the fourth quarter, we are raising our guidance for full year headline profit before tax for financial year 2018 to between £550 million and £590 million," Lundgren said in an earnings statement.

It comes as EasyJet said that in the third quarter to the end of June revenue rose by 14 percent to £1.6 billion and ancillary income from increased add-ons such as allocated seating advanced more than a fifth to £328 million.

"EasyJet has delivered a strong performance in the third quarter with robust customer demand driving outperformance in our passenger and ancillary revenue growth," the company said.

But it added: "Disruption across Europe continues to be an industry wide issue and is having an impact on revenue, cost and operational performance, with the main drivers being European industrial action and air traffic restrictions."

EasyJet said it suffered 2,606 cancelled flights during its latest reporting period, up from 314 in its third-quarter of 2017 -- costing the group £25 million.

Passenger numbers in the third quarter meanwhile jumped 9.3 percent to 24.4 million.

© 2018 AFP