Easyjet profits rise sharply as passenger numbers increase
No frills airline Easyjet has reported a 21.5% rise in annual pre-tax profits, helped by increased passenger numbers.
Profits rose to £581m for the 12 months to end of September, up from £478m in the previous year.
The UK carrier also said it had transported 64.8 million passengers - marking a 7% rise.
Chief executive Carolyn McCall said EasyJet had "opened up clear blue sky" between the airline and its competitors.
Easyjet, which has a fleet of 226 planes, said the acquisition of slots at Gatwick airport from rival airline Flybe had boosted its performance.
The amount of available seats on Easyjet flights grew by 5.1% to 71.5 million, of which almost 91% were filled.
The airline said it was seeing increasing passenger loyalty, with 57% of existing customers rebooking each year.
"When people sample us, when they try us for the first time, they tend not to go back to legacy airlines," Ms McCall told the BBC.
She added that a new loyalty scheme, trialled on 15,000 passengers, was proving popular, and would make it easier for dedicated fliers to navigate airports and book travel.
Easyjet's outlook for the coming year was largely positive, although it warned that costs per seat would increase by approximately 2.5% due to rising airport, navigation and maintenance charges.
However, the airline also said an expected fall in fuel prices could drive costs down by as much as £22m over the next six months.
Easyjet faces increased competition from more traditional rivals, such as Air France-KLM and Lufthansa, who are expanding into the "low-cost" sector.
In addition, Easyjet's largest competitor, Ryanair, has focused recently on improving its customer service.