Easyjet's Carolyn McCall likes the new 'nice Ryanair' as improved sector image boosts budget airline's profits

Airline's annual profit soared 22% to £581 million- but City was disappointed it did not issue a special dividend

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The Independent Online

Easyjet’s chief executive Carolyn McCall has welcomed Ryanair's efforts to turn around its unfriendly image - because it boosts demand across her planes too.

“It was quite negative for all low cost airlines when [Ryanair] was behaving in a way that was not at all customer friendly,” McCall said. “So I don’t think its move with customer services is a bad thing. But you don’t turn a switch on and say ‘I want to be nice to customers,’ it’s endemic.”

Her comments came as easyJet’s annual profit soared 22 per cent to £581 million, passenger numbers lifted 7 per cent to 64.8 million and the carrier upped its dividend by more than a third to 45.4p.

 

The City was disappointed McCall didn’t announce a special dividend - sending shares down 27p to 1516p.

“We absolutely want to pay a special dividend,” McCall said, “but the right time is not now. We’ve paid £769 million back to shareholders over the last three years. If we have surplus cash we’ll give it back.”

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Ahead of Lord Davis’ final report on aviation expansion in the south east, McCall said she “really hopes” that “politicians will listen  - we’ve been talking about airport capacity for 50 years and nothing’s been done. But I have no idea if that will change.”

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