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British airline easyJet posts bigger-than-expected first half loss

Short haul Europe will be serviced by low cost carriers: easyJet CEO

British budget airline easyJet posted a wider first-half loss, hit by the weak pound and the late timing of Easter this year, but said pricing pressures within the industry were starting to stabilize.

The airline, which has been battling fierce competition from rivals and over-capacity in Europe, said strong cost control and the easing pressure on some prices meant it still expected to meet full-year targets.

Headline loss before tax came in at 212 million pounds compared to an average analyst estimate of a pretax loss of 195.75 million pounds, according to Thomson Reuters estimates.

The numbers included an estimated 45 million pound hit from Easter falling into the second-half, and a negative net currency impact of 82 million pounds.

Total loss before tax after non-headline items was 236 million pounds. Total revenue was up 3.2 percent to 1.8 billion pounds, in-line with expectations, with revenue per seat of 48.80 pounds.

Despite the large headline loss, Chief Executive Carolyn McCall said that bookings for the summer were ahead of last year, pricing pressures in the sector were easing and cost-control had been good.

What's behind easyJet's loss, according to the CEO

"Looking ahead, we are seeing an improving revenue per seat trend as well as the continued reduction of competitor capacity growth. Cost performance for the full year will continue to be strong," she said "Our expectations for the full year are in line with current consensus market expectations."

The airline said that it remained on track to secure a European Air Operator Certificate by the summer, to ensure it can maintain its flying rights within the EU once Britain leaves.

It also said it would convert an existing order of 30 A320 NEO aircraft into A321 NEO under its existing agreement with Airbus, which it said would aid its ability to manage costs.