EasyJet eyeing a record after late rush in search of the sun

Budget airline easyJet yesterday flagged up record profits this year as holidaymakers who stayed at home for the Olympics dashed abroad to grab some late summer sun.

EasyJet, which carries 58 million passengers a year, said pre-tax profits for the year to September could hit as much as £320m, £20m above its estimates in late July.

Fears over Olympic disruption failed to emerge while Britons also flooded abroad after the wettest summer for 100 years.

The airline carried 11 million passengers in total in August and September, of which 3.5 million came from London and the South-east. Of these, 500,000 jetted off to Malaga, Alicante and Faro, easyJet said. The update pleased the City as analysts immediately marked up their own forecasts.

Wyn Ellis, an analyst at Numis, said: "Before the summer they were a little bit concerned about disruption from the unions but it was a very smooth month. If you look at the likes of Tui Travel and Thomas Cook, they saw an increase in bookings after the Olympics because it was such a lousy summer."

The profit improvement comes despite the company absorbing an extra £230m in fuel costs during the financial year. There are also further headwinds ahead from another £40m in fuel costs, as well as the impact of the falling euro, because around half of the carrier's customers book in Europe. Airport costs are also expected to rise by around £80m.