LONDON: Britain’s easyJet aims to become the world’s first major airline to operate
net-zero carbon flights across its entire network, it said on Tuesday after posting full-year profit toward the top end of expectations.
In addition to the plans to offset emissions from flying, the budget carrier also announced that it would launch easyJet Holidays in Britain by the festive period, offering its own beach and city breaks after the demise of tour operator Thomas Cook.
The carbon offset programs will cost about £25 million ($32.4 million) a year, though Chief Executive Johan Lundgren acknowledged that longer-term solutions are also needed.
“We recognize that offsetting is only an interim measure, but we want to take action on our carbon emissions now,” he said.
Airlines have come under increasing pressure to reduce emissions in the face of the growing “flight shame” movement, formed in Lundgren’s native Sweden.
British Airways owner IAG has said that it will carbon-offset its domestic flights, but moves toward more sustainable fuel or even hybrid or electric planes will take years.
Over the past two years easyJet worked with Wright Electric, which aims to produce an all-electric commerical plane to be used for short-haul flights.
The announcements came as easyJet reported headline pretax profit of £427 million, compared with guidance last month of a figure between £420 million and £430 million. That was down 26 percent from last year because of rising fuel prices and a tough operating environment.
The airline said that forward bookings for the first half of the 2020 financial year were “reassuring” and slightly ahead of last year, reiterating that capacity growth would be toward the lower end of historic guidance between 3 percent and 8 percent.
Analysts at RBC said consensus estimates for 2020 are unlikely to change, with upgrades of 5-7 percent from a better pricing environment being “masked” by the spend on carbon offsetting.
EasyJet said that the new holidays business would break even in the year to September 2020. It is expected to fly routes from Gatwick and Bristol take-off and landing slots that were acquired after the collapse of Thomas Cook, starting as early as next February.