Jet2.com owner Dart Group reported a large surge in profits with Britons chosing to book more foreign holidays.
The Leeds-based firm said it expected to meet market expectations for the new financial year after it posted a 36 per cent increase in pretax profit to £117.5m.
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The group, which runs Britain’s third biggest airline in terms of passenger numbers behind easyJet and British Airways, booked a £2.6m loss on foreign exchange revaluations and flew a total of 12.82m flight-only and package holiday passengers, up from 10.38m the year before.
Flight-only products enjoyed by 6.49m passengers, a growth of 21 per cent.
Operating losses for the second half of the year increased, as Dart continued to invest in additional aircraft and marketing, together with the increasing cost of retaining and attracting colleagues in readiness for our expanding Summer 2019 flying programme.
Dart also sounded a note of caution, saying that while demand for leisure travel products has continued to strengthen since the start of the new financial year, it viewed its forward booking trends as being generally less confident, with consumers booking later than last year and therefore pricing for both flight-only and package holiday products having to be continually enticing.
Nevertheless, with still some way to go in the booking cycle, the board said it remains optimistic that current market expectations for Group profit before foreign exchange revaluations and taxation for the year ending 31 March 2020 will be met.
Dart Group chairmany said: “Our performance reflects the growing success of our Leisure Travel products - holiday flights with our award-winning airline Jet2.com and package holidays with our acclaimed ATOL (*) licensed tour operator Jet2holidays - which has led to continuing strong customer demand for both.
“We are proud and pleased that the financial year ended 31 March 2019 saw the start of the Group’s Discretionary Colleague Profit Share Scheme, to reward those colleagues who do not already participate in performance related bonus or commission schemes and who have been continuously employed for at least 12 months.
“The first payments totalling £9.5m (including employer’s NI £10.8m) will be made at the end of July 2019 - we are thrilled to be sharing our success with our fantastic colleagues.
“We wouldn’t be where we are without the talent and dedication of our 11,000+ colleagues and one of my greatest pleasures as Executive Chairman is working with and getting to know so many enthusiastic and dedicated people throughout our business.
“Their commitment to delight the customer is hugely appreciated and is what drives our continued success. Therefore, I’d like to thank everyone for another year of determined effort which has delivered such great progress and financial results.”
The board is recommending an increased final dividend of 7.4p per share.
Looking further ahead, the travel industry in general is facing cost pressures in relation to fuel, carbon and other operating charges.