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easyJet Profit Soars By Over 27%

Budget airline easyJet has reported a rise in pre-tax profit of 27.9% to £317m over the year to the end of September.

The firm said a surge in late summer bookings to destinations including Malaga, Alicante and Faro helped boost its revenue, which increased by 11.6% to £3.85bn.

Passenger numbers were up by over 7% at the company - which is Europe's second-largest budget airline after Ryanair - and it more than doubled its full year dividend from 10.5p to 21.5p, or £85m.

The company said its strong results come despite a rise of £182m in fuel costs and low consumer confidence across Europe as a result of the ongoing debt crisis.

Less disruption from weather and strikes helped easyJet reduce its amount of cancelled flights - fewer than 1,000 were cancelled over the last financial year, compared with more than 4,000 in 2011.

Chief executive Carolyn McCall said: "These results demonstrate that easyJet is a structural winner in the European short-haul market against both legacy and low-cost competition."

She added: "Whilst there is always the potential for unexpected events to temporarily impact financial results, the Board of easyJet is confident that its business model, strategy and people will consistently continue to generate superior returns and growth for shareholders."

The airline has outperformed rivals, which continue to struggle with the tough economic conditions facing the sector.

Earlier this month, IAG's Spanish airline Iberia reported profit of just £13.5m, and announced pay cuts and 4,500 job losses. 

While Spanair and Hungary's Malev have both ceased operations - leaving gaps in the market that easyJet has been able to take advantage of.