EasyJet profit soars as flights fill up

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EasyJet raised its profits forecast for the year to more than £150m after reporting stronger-than-expected passenger numbers for last month.

The no-frills airline said it carried 4.8 million people in September – an increase of 8 per cent on the same month in 2009 and enough to boost revenue per seat by 6 per cent, thanks to surging demand for European beach holidays.

EasyJet had predicted an annual profit of between £100m and £150m. The publication of more optimistic forecasts yesterday sent the group's shares soaring by 12 per cent to 433p as the market close last night. Alongside the strong passenger numbers, the company also lowered from £65m to £60m its estimate of the cost of the volcanic ash cloud that closed European airspace for several days in May.

Carolyn McCall, the former boss of Guardian Media Group, who took over as easyJet's chief executive in July, described the airline's performance as "robust given the tough trading environment".

She also took a swipe at striking air-traffic controllers in France, Spain and Greece, who have cost the company an estimated £6m in compensation payouts to passengers.

"The significant disruption caused to millions of passengers across Europe demonstrates the urgent need for European governments and the European Commission to modernise Europe's outdated system of air-traffic control providers and to end the ongoing strike action," Ms McCall said.