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By Paul Sandle
LONDON (Reuters) -Low-cost carrier easyJet said it was "in the right place" to meet pent-up demand for summer flights, with bookings above pre-pandemic levels in the last 10 weeks and sold ticket yields for the fourth quarter 15% higher than in 2019.
Chief Executive Johan Lundgren said easyJet was "absolutely focused" on strengthening its operational resilience for the summer after it had to cancel flights at Easter because of crew absences.
Speaking after the British company reported a first-half loss of 545 million pounds ($675 million), in line with guidance, Lundgren said easyJet was managing the fastest post-pandemic ramp-up of any airline.
He said 76% of its third-quarter capacity had been sold, while 36% had been sold for the fourth quarter, when easyJet plans to fly 97% of its pre-pandemic schedule.
Its shares were down 1% on Thursday, outperforming a 2% weaker FTSE250.
Lundgren said easyJet had taken action to avoid a repeat of the problems it saw around Easter.
It has, for example, removed six seats from some A319 aircraft to reduce the crew requirement by one.
"We can put the seats back in at any point of time if the situation changes, but just to make sure that we're in a good place for resilience this summer, it's an action we have taken," he told reporters.
EasyJet did not provide financial guidance for the second half, but said higher fuel and the dollar exchange rate were "layering additional costs", although it had a "very good" hedging position in both cases.
The carrier is around 71% hedged for fuel in its second half at $619 per metric tonne, compared with a spot price earlier this week of around $1,225.
($1 = 0.8068 pounds)
(Editing by James Davey and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)