easyJet PLC’s (LON:EZJ) chief executive has confirmed the discount airline’s continued interest in at least parts of Alitalia, after Italy's transport minister said the Italian airline will remain under majority state control but needs a partner, according to a newspaper report.
Johan Lundgren told Corriere della Sera that easyJet has not yet talked with the Italian government but is open to holding discussions.
READ: easyJet shares lift off as it raises profit guidance despite impact of air traffic control strikes
The report comes in the wake of a trading update from the FTSE 100-listed airline on Wednesday in which easyJet raised its full-year profit guidance as cost savings offset the impact of having to cancel more flights in the third quarter due to industrial action and severe weather.
The budget airline now expects headline pre-tax profit – including the operations at Berlin Tegel Airport that it agreed to buy from insolvent Air Berlin last October— for the 2018 financial year of £550mln to £590mln, up from the £530mln to £580mln range it estimated in its first-half results in May.
Richard Hunter, head of markets at interactive investor, commented: “The stars are aligning for easyJet this year, as a number of factors are playing into its hands.
“The demise of competitors such as Monarch, Air Berlin and Alitalia has opened up the field, ancillary revenue has increased due to a change in passenger behaviour (increasingly paying for additional baggage and allocated seating) and load factors remain high.
He added: “Passenger numbers have increased by 9% and this combination of tailwinds has enabled the group to increase revenues by 14% in the period and, equally importantly, upgrade profit guidance for the full year. In turn, this should increase the dividend payment, even if the projected yield of 3.3% is not especially inspiring.
“As the summer season gets into full swing, further grounds for optimism persist.”
In afternoon trading, easyJet shares were 2% lower at 1,608.5p.