Jet2 soars to £5bn but shares fall amid Meeson exit

Jet2 executive chairman Phillip Meeson

Leeds-based Jet2 plc said its revenue increased by 309% to £5.033 billion in the year to March 31, 2023, and was up 40% on 2020 — but its shares fell about 10% as it announced that executive chairman Philip Meeson, 75, intends to step down from the board.

Meeson still owns 18.31% of Jet2 stock, according to the firm’s website.

Profit before tax was £371 million compared to a £388.8 million loss in 2022 and a £153.2 million profit before tax in 2020.

Jet2 intends to pay a final dividend of 8p per share (2022: nil).

“The rebound in consumer confidence to travel helped underpin a significantly improved financial performance …” said Jet2. flew a total of 16.22m (2022: 4.85m) single sector passengers, an increase of 234%, with higher margin package holiday customers representing 64.9% of overall flown passengers (2022: 51.3%) which was also 13.2 ppts higher than 2020.”

On Meeson, Jet2 said: “Philip bought the business in 1983, when it was a small cargo airline and distribution company serving the Channel Islands.

“The company subsequently listed in November 1988 and has since become one of the UK’s leading leisure travel businesses. 

“Philip will move to non-executive chair during the course of this year and remain in that role until a successor is appointed. 

Over recent years, Philip has devolved most of his executive responsibilities to the company’s senior management team. 

“Together with the recently strengthened board, the senior management team, led by Steve Heapy, Chief Executive Officer and Gary Brown, Group Chief Financial Officer, has strength in depth throughout the group’s operations.

“The final results announcement today highlights the excellent trading performance for the year ended 31 March 2023 together with pleasing forward bookings. 

“A robust balance sheet with £2.6bn of total cash and £1.1bn of ‘own cash’ bodes well for future growth, underpinned by the recent fleet order for 98 fuel-efficient Airbus A321/A320neo aircraft with options to increase to 146 aircraft by 2035. 

“These are in addition to 34 new Boeing 737-800 NGs which were delivered between 2016 and 2019.”

Meeson said: “I am extremely proud of the business I and colleagues have developed over the past 40 years and have huge respect for the newly enlarged board and the outstanding management team that over recent years has built up Jet2holidays to become the largest package holiday provider in the UK, together with, the UK’s third largest airline. 

“Jet2holidays is a well trusted UK leisure travel brand with a great in-house airline, which together – through our unwavering commitment to our customers and the ethos of ‘People, Service, Profits’ – have created a leading family friendly holiday product. 

“I therefore remain confident in the outlook for the group, but I am conscious of my age and the need to plan an orderly succession. I remain committed to Jet2 and will support my successor and the management in any way I can.”