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EasyJet to expand holiday business after strong first half

  • "It is a great set of numbers, it is actually one of the best-ever winter performances that the company has had," easyJet CEO Johan Lundgren told CNBC's "Squawk Box Europe."
  • Lundgren also said he would focus on attracting business passengers and introducing a new loyalty programme, strategies which he believes will drive higher returns for shareholders.

British low-cost airline easyJet will expand its holiday business and add a loyalty scheme as new CEO Johan Lundgren seeks to make his mark on the company after reporting strong first-half results.

EasyJet said on Tuesday it would invest more in easyJet Holidays, with Lundgren positioning the company to better compete against his former employer holiday company TUI and its rival Thomas Cook.

"It is a great set of numbers, it is actually one of the best-ever winter performances that the company has had," easyJet CEO Johan Lundgren told CNBC's "Squawk Box Europe" on Tuesday.

Lundgren also said he would focus on attracting business passengers and introducing a new loyalty programme, strategies which he believes will drive higher returns for shareholders.

The new focus comes after easyJet swung into profit for the first half, on results that excluded the costly impact of its expansion into Berlin's Tegel airport last year.

In the traditionally weaker winter half-year period when fewer Europeans travel, easyJet posted a pretax profit of 8 million pounds ($10.8 million), a big improvement on the 212 million pound loss it made in the same period last year.

When asked whether he was concerned about the recent upswing in oil prices, Lundgren replied: "We compete very well when the oil prices actually go up compared to others who tend to ground their aircrafts… Therefore, the competitive pressures will be slightly easier for us."

The company said it benefited from a reduction of capacity in the airline market after rival British operator Monarch collapsed last year and Italy's Alitalia went into administration.

For the full year, easyJet expects to post pretax profit, including the impact of the losses from Tegel, in the range of 530 million to 580 million pounds, up at least 30 percent on 2017's outcome.