EasyJet reported a 21 per cent lift in pre-tax profit for the full year, slightly ahead of its own market guidance.
Profit before tax came in at £581m for the 12 months ended 30 September. The airline added it predicts more growth for the first six months of 2015.
The profits are the highest reported by the company and 2014 is the fourth financial year in a row for which EasyJet has published record profits. Earnings per share also rose, by 13 per cent, from 101.3p to 114.5p.
The company said it expected capacity to increase 3.5 per cent for the first six months of the 2015 financial year.
The airline, which has a 20 per cent share of the UK’s short-haul market, expects the cost of a seat on one of its flights to rise by 2.5 per cent, driven primarily by the costs associated with the aging of its fleet and the company’s expansion to new airports.
From the statement:
As a result of EasyJet continuing to invest in and grow its network, revenue per seat at constant currency for the first half of the financial year is expected to be flat to very slightly up on the prior year.
EasyJet expects cost per seat (excluding fuel and currency) to increase by around 2.5 per cent for the first half of the year and by around 2 per cent for the full year.
This figure excludes the effects of fuel cost, which are expected to fall at least until 2016 as global crude prices continue to fall.
Commenting on the results, Carolyn McCall, EasyJet's chief executive, said:
EasyJet has continued to execute its strategy, delivering another strong performance and enabling EasyJet to deliver record profits for the fourth year in a row. We are also proposing to increase the proportion of our profits after tax paid in dividends from one third to 40 per cent, reflecting our confidence in the future of EasyJet.
Despite its performance this year, arch-rival Ryanair has out-flown EasyJet on the FTSE, with the Irish airline benefiting from an improved image after it revamped its luggage allowance.
Shares edged down 1.6 per cent to £15.20 in early trading.