Airlines blame Brexit for heavy losses with “further headwinds” ahead

Thomas Cook and easyJet have both blamed Brexit for heavy losses in the first half of the year, warning that further headwinds are ahead.

Billion-pound losses were revealed at Thomas Cook which has said there is “now little doubt” that Brexit had caused customers to delay their summer holiday plans.

easyJet today also posted a loss before tax of £272 million in its half year results, blaming Brexit and increased fuel costs for the downturn.

Holidaymakers have said they are looking for clarity on Britain’s future relationship with the European Union before making plans, with concerns over delays aired as customers look further afield or stay closer to home.

Peter Fankhauser, chief executive of Thomas Cook, said that during the first six months of the year there had been “an uncertain consumer environment across all our markets”.

“The prolonged heatwave last summer and high prices in the Canaries reduced customer demand for winter sun, particularly in the Nordic region, while there is now little doubt that the Brexit process has led many UK customers to delay their holiday plans for this summer,” he added.

One holidaymaker, David Turner, told the BBC: “We normally have a holiday in France every year. We hire a house in the summer and drive through the Channel Tunnel and make overnight stops in hotels en route.

“We have delayed booking this year until there is clarity over Brexit.

“We are concerned that there will be long delays at customs as passports and vehicles are checked and further delay and queues on both sides of the channel leading to the tunnel.”

Laura Beaton, Travel and Tourism analyst at GlobalData, said Brexit has become a “huge threat to the airline industry”, but with uncertainty only continuing airlines “cannot afford to dwell on it”.

“The half year report shows the passenger numbers for the six months to March 2019 increased by 4.9 million passengers (13.3 per cent) so demand is still increasing despite Brexit.”

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