Divi doubles at EasyJet thanks to record profit

 
Marion Dakers
EASYJET is treating its shareholders to a dividend twice as big as last year, after posting a 28 per cent rise in pre-tax profits to £317m.

The budget airline brushed off the fuel cost and traffic concerns that dog the rest of the industry to deliver an 11.6 per cent jump in revenues to £3.85bn for the year to 30 September.

Chief executive Carolyn McCall said yesterday that EasyJet is “in a unique position to grow against the legacy competitors” such as British Airways.

Investors will get an ordinary dividend of 21.5p, up from 10.5p a year ago, when the carrier paid out for the first time since its inception in 1995. The payout was welcomed by Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the firm’s founder and a major shareholder.

McCall said a trial of allocated seating had gone well, with families and older passengers paying extra to choose their seat alongside the business travellers EasyJet had originally targeted with the service.

Profit per seat increased to £3.87 in the period, while passenger numbers rose 7.1 per cent to 58.4m.

“Companies are being more cost conscious, which has helped us win more corporate work,” said McCall, adding that the “adoption and attitude of MPs has been great” since EasyJet struck a deal with parliament to offer flights to politicians earlier this year.

The airline is in talks to buy new planes and plans to raise seat capacity by up to five per cent a year.

“Set against the difficulties which the industry has been facing, typified by the recent Iberia announcement, EasyJet has managed to shoot the lights out,” said Richard Hunter, head of equities at Hargreaves Lansdown.