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easyJet lowers earnings outlook after ash cloud

British no-frills airline easyJet on Tuesday lowered its full-year profits forecast after announcing that travel disruption caused by the volcanic ash cloud had cost it between 50 and 75 million pounds.

News that the cloud had cost it the equivalent of 58-87 million euros or 74-111 million dollars came as the carrier also said that its net losses had narrowed during the first six months of its financial year.

An easyJet statement said it expected annual pre-tax profit of 100-150 million pounds instead of 175-200 million pounds because of the ash cloud fallout, which continues to force the closure of airports.

The company’s outgoing chief executive Andy Harrison said nevertheless the airline was on course to “deliver substantial profit growth in 2010”.

It said that losses after tax narrowed to 58.9 million pounds in the six months to March 31 from 85.9 million pounds during the same period in 2009.

Harrison is set to leave the company at the end of June, easyJet announced last year.

In March it appointed Carolyn McCall, chief executive of the Guardian Media Group, to replace Harrison, who is leaving after a period of boardroom turmoil over the carrier’s growth strategy.