BUDGET airline easyJet has said it is ready to “ramp up” services for the summer holiday season by offering more flights from late May after restrictions ease.

The carrier said it expects to fly up to 20 per cent of 2019 capacity levels between April and June, with most countries planning to resume flying at scale in May.

EasyJet, who expanded their Gatwick fleet last year, flew just 14 per cent of its 2019 flight programme between October and the end of March.

The group confirmed it will slump to a steep first-half loss, of between £690 million and £730 million for the six months to March 31, but said this is slightly better than it expected thanks largely to stringent cost-cutting.

It compares with half-year underlying pre-tax losses of £193 million a year earlier.

EasyJet burned through around £470 million of cash during its second quarter to the end of December, which was lower than feared as it slashed costs by nearly 60 per cent to about £854 million.

Chief executive Johan Lundgren said: “We continue to closely monitor the situation across Europe and, with vaccination programmes accelerating, most countries are planning to resume flying at scale in May.

“We have the operational flexibility to rapidly increase flying and add destinations to match demand.

“EasyJet is ready to resume flying, prepared for the ramp-up and looking forward to being able to reunite people with their families or take them on leisure and business flights once again.”

The Argus: EasyJet has been hit by the impact of the pandemic EasyJet has been hit by the impact of the pandemic

But he reiterated calls for the Government to cut the price of Covid-19 tests for air passengers, having previously said they sometimes cost more than easyJet’s tickets.

He said: “EasyJet was founded to make travel accessible for all and so we continue to engage with Government to ensure that the cost of the required testing is driven down so that it doesn’t risk turning back the clock and make travel too costly for some.”

Britons are set to be allowed to travel abroad for foreign holidays from May 17 under the Government’s road map to easing coronavirus restrictions.

But there are fears over a third wave across Europe and with vaccination programmes progressing more slowly in other countries globally.

EasyJet’s half-year update showed that it expects revenues to plummet by around 90 per cent to £235 million after passenger numbers tumbled by 89 per cent to 4.1 million amid the latest lockdown and travel restrictions.

It said it could not give any further guidance for full-year financial expectations, due to uncertainty caused by the pandemic and with customers booking at the very last minute.

Shares lifted 3 per cent after the update on Wednesday morning.