Facebook Connect Follow us on Twitter and win an iPad 3
EasyJet will pay special dividend as profits rise 51%

EasyJet is planning to return £175m to shareholders in a special dividend after full year profits rose 51% to £478m - a record for the company.

Full-year profit before tax rose 51 per cent to £478m on revenues that were up 10 per cent to £4.26bn, the airline said on Tuesday.

A special dividend of 44.1p a share has been recommended by the board, subject to approval at the company’s annual meeting in February, on top of its existing 33.5p per share dividend, responding to a longstanding demand from Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, its founder and largest shareholder.

EasyJet said it ended its financial year to September 30 with £1.24bn in cash - an increase of £354m on the previous 12 months - and as a result the board was recommending the extra payout.

Total revenue rose 10.5% over the period to £4.25bn as it flew 68 million people while revenue per seat increased by 7% to an average of more than £62.

Despite the upbeat results, EasyJet executives were cautious about the winter outlook, citing restrictions on travel to Egypt. The airline forecast the overall market to grow 2 per cent and said it expected its costs per seat, excluding fuel, to rise about 2 per cent over the year.

Full-year operating profit was up 50 per cent to £497m and basic earnings per share rose 62 per cent to 101.3p.

EasyJet said that while it expected more competition from the growth of low-cost carriers, there was opportunity to take market share from other “less-efficient” carriers.

The company said in October that annual profits would be at the upper end of expectations, and cited keen demand for flights during July and August.