News & Analysis

easyJet shares soar toward the horizon as CEO makes stand against restrictions

Andrew Saks, Wednesday, 21 July 2021

Budget airlines have become a feature in the lives of almost everyone in the Western Hemisphere over the past few decades.

A longstanding legacy of the Reagan and Thatcher period, the brightly colored fuselages of short to medium distance aircraft have adorned the skies of Europe and North America to such an extent that they are as much of a common sight as most other forms of transport.

More importantly, these are the carriers which have opened the world and broadened the horizons of entire national populations who, regardless of means or status, think nothing of regularly traveling to pretty much anywhere they want.

Until last year. Restrictions that have been continually in place for over 16 months have negated the availability of cheap travel, and in some cases banned it altogether.

Even when flights have been allowed, passengers have had to pay a lot of money for tests and provide reasons to travel, making it prohibitively expensive for many, despite the low fares of the airlines.

It's a double-edged sword because the airline industry is one of narrow margins, and even under normal circumstances, reliance on full capacity and constant flight is essential for their businesses to survive.

Jet2, Ryanair and easyJet are three of the most popular among British travellers, and all three have had their share prices hit hard as a result of annual results that have shown the true decrease in passengers over the past year, which is clear, written in black and white and concludes the first full year in which the full picture can be viewed.

Jet2 was the most recent to show its figures, with passengers down to 370,000 over the most recent financial year compared to 3.3 million the year before. Immediately, upon publication of that annual report just a few weeks ago, Jet2 share prices headed for the ground.

easyJet, however, is not taking this lying down. The company has a very well-earned reputation for astute business, and its founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou, is a brilliant businessman who showed the world that it is entirely possible to run a profitable budget airline and give customers from across Britain and Europe exactly what they want.

Following in his footsteps is the current CEO of the company, Johan Lundgren, who today stood up and publicly blasted the ongoing travel restrictions that encumber the British public, saying that 'expensive and unnecessary testing' for low-risk destinations 'just doesn't make sense'.

Mr Lundgren also acted upon his sentiment by ramping up flights.

easyJet's revenues have been reported at £213 million which is a sharp increase from the £7million collected the same time last year when the first and most restrictive lockdowns were in force, and Mr Lundgren's public perspective, along with this increase in revenues, has put easyJet firmly in favor with shareholders.

The company's stock rose massively today, with a 5% increase over yesterday's close and shares are now trading at 815.2p per share.

Looking at the longer term, this still places easyJet shares at a lower value than they had been at the beginning of 2021 but considering the obstacles that the entire transport and international travel sector has faced due to the restrictions and testing requirements of passengers, a rise in stock price of a budget airline at this point in time is very unusual indeed.

As is often the case, leadership is everything and Mr Lundgren's statements and actions are of exactly that - a leader.

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