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UPDATE 1-Travel firm Dart Group says to add further summer capacity

(Adds shares, outlook, analyst comments)

Sept 3 (Reuters) - Britain’s Dart Group said on Thursday it was satisfied with its average load factor performance so far, and that it will continue to add further capacity for the rest of the summer, sending the travel firm’s shares 3% higher.

The company said that pricing for its leisure travel products will need to remain “consistently enticing” as winter 20/21 forward bookings have yet to match its revised on-sale seat capacity.

Customer bookings are also displaying a shorter lead time than in previous years, Dart added.

Bookings to date for the summer of 2021 are encouraging, the company said, with average load factors ahead of the same point last year and package holiday customer numbers as a proportion of total departing customers showing a material increase.

The company also said it would rename itself as Jet2 plc to focus on growing its leisure travel business after the recent sale of Fowler Welch, its distribution and logistics business.

It also named Stephen Heapy, chief executive officer of Jet2.com and Jet2holidays, as CEO of Jet2.

“Today’s AGM update confirms a nascent recovery is in train, with steady customer demand in the context of fast-moving government guidance,” Stifel analyst Mark Irvine-Fortescue said, adding that its cash is better than expected.

Dart, which had a total cash balance of 1.06 billion pounds ($1.41 billion) at Aug 28, said the Bank of England’s coronavirus aid facility of up to 300 million pounds is currently unutilised. ($1 = 0.7528 pounds) (Reporting by Tanishaa Nadkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)

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