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Easyjet has seen its pre-tax profits rise by 51 per cent to £478 million after benefiting from an increase in business travellers.
The no-frills carrier saw total revenue rise by 10.5 per cent to £4.26 billion for the financial year ending on September 30, 2013. Last year, Luton-based Easyjet made pre-tax profits of £317 million on the back of revenues of £3.85 billion.
Total revenue per seat was up by 7 per cent year-on-year to £62.58 helped by the impact of the introduction of allocated seating and the continued focus on business travellers who generally spend more on their tickets than leisure passengers.
The airline's new record profit in 2013 contrasts with two profit warnings from arch-rival Ryanair in recent months. Easyjet shares rose by more than 6 per cent to £13.33 in early trading on the London Stock Exchange following the release of the results.
Chief executive Carolyn McCall said: “The results reflect Easyjet's continued structural advantage in the European short-haul market against both the legacy and low-cost competition.
“Our disciplined approach to capacity allocation has resulted in a meaningful growth in earnings, profit margin and return on capital employed and we have ended the year with a strong balance sheet and a low level of gearing.”
Easyjet said that it would be returning £308 million in dividends to shareholders including a special dividend of 44.1 pence per share, on top of an ordinary dividend of 33.5 per share.
The airline said there had been “good progress” in its plans to attract more business travellers with the introduction of fast track security for Flexi Fare customers at 26 airports and a new inclusive fare, which is only available through trade channels.
“Easyjet has in excess of ten million business passengers travelling on a rolling 12 month basis and has increased its share of the business travel market by 4 per cent,” said the airline.