Source AP ©

Full-year net profit of budget airline easyJet achieves 62 percent

Budget airline easyJet experienced a 62 percent jump in full-year net profit.

The carrier reported a net profit of 152.3 million pounds (213 million EUR; US$313 million) in the year ending Sept. 30, compared with 94.1 million pounds in the previous 12 months.

Revenue rose 22 percent to 1.8 billion pounds (2.5 billion EUR; US$3.7 billion) as passenger numbers were up 13 percent to 37.2 million,

The load factor, which shows how full the airline's planes are, dipped to 83.7 percent from 84.8 percent, reflecting expansion of easyJet's network.

The airline added eight destinations and 46 routes over the past year, bringing its network to 289 routes, using 77 airports in 21 countries.

EasyJet said that rising fuel prices meant the "fuel environment remains challenging," but said high fuel costs would be partly offset by the weak U.S. dollar.

"Despite challenging conditions, revenue, profit and return on equity have all shown strong improvements reflecting the success of our focus on low cost with care and convenience," said Chief Executive Andy Harrison.

The airline said it expects an increase in underlying profit before tax of around 20 percent in the current financial year, a forecast that excludes its proposed acquisition of GB Airways.

GB Airways, a British Airways franchise partner, serves 31 destinations in southern Europe and North Africa, mainly from London's Gatwick airport.

EasyJet said it expects to complete the 103.5 million pounds (euro148.9 million; US$212 million) deal by the end of January.

Andrew Fitchie, analyst at Collins Stewart, said the airline's profit growth was not sustainable.

"EasyJet's profit growth was entirely driven by the fleet financing switch from off-balance sheet to on-balance sheet," Fitchie said.

"Alongside this, tangible fixed assets grew 24 percent. Whilst this will continue to benefit the group as it moves more assets on balance sheet, this is not sustainable profits growth."

Shares in easyJet closed unchanged at 580 pence (US$11.96; 8.09 EUR) on the London Stock Exchange.

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