British airline and holidays company Monarch Group today said it was sticking with its forecast for a return to profitability this year.

This comes after a turnaround plan at the airline helped its seasonal loss narrow by 37% in its first half. 

Monarch is now in the hands of investment firm Greybull Capital following its sale by Switzerland's Mantegazza family last year.

It said today that £30m of the improved winter performance was due to "self-help" measures. 

The Luton-based company which flies British holidaymakers to destinations in Spain, Italy and France said it remained on track to deliver double digit earnings for the 12 months ended October, in line with a forecast made in January. 

Monarch's chief financial officer Barry Nightingale said that the company was confident about its forward order book. 

"If the trends continue the way they are, we'll quickly eat into those winter losses," he said. 

Monarch competes against Europe's biggest and second biggest budget carriers Ryanair and EasyJet respectively in the continent's fiercely competitive short-haul market, where both airlines have recently suggested that fares could fall slightly. 

"Our goal is to make sure our cost base is competitive so that we can respond to whatever the market does and we're very confident we can do that," Monarch's chief executive Andrew Swaffield said. 

For the six months ended April 30, Monarch posted a loss of £69.9m compared to the £110.6m loss sustained in the same period last year. 

Capacity reductions, ending loss-making routes, plus around 700 job losses and pay cuts of between 30-35% for remaining staff, as well as a cheaper fuel bill, all contributed to the reduced loss.

Monarch plans to revamp its fleet in the next five years with 30 Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes it has on order, with the CEO suggesting that the company would likely take a decision on the options it has on additional jets some time next year. 

Separately today, EasyJet reported a 7.2% jump in traffic in May compared to the same month last year, while Wizz Air, another budget carrier, said its passenger volume grew 20% in May.

Ryanair said yesterday that its passenger numbers for last month rose by 16% to 9.5 million passengers, up from 8.2 million the same time last year.