Jet2 parent sees 37% increase in first half profits

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Dart Group, the parent company of UK carrier Jet2, has posted a 37% increase in first half pre-tax profits to £57 million ($91 million), aided by 23% growth in the airline's revenue to £388 million.

Total group revenue was up 31% to £585 million, with package holiday subsidiary Jet2holidays more than doubling revenue and logistics arm Fowler Welch also seeing an 8% uptick in turnover.

Passenger numbers at the airline rose 14% to 3.6 million for the first half to 30 September 2012, outstripping seat capacity increases of 11%. This resulted in a 1.8 percentage point increase in passenger load factor to 91.6%.

The group credits Jet2holidays with fuelling more than two thirds of the airline's passenger volume growth.

It says profit margins at the airline were "slightly ahead" of the previous year's first half figure, without providing specific figures. Operating costs increased by 20% year-on-year, the company adds, due to higher fuel, maintenance and sub-charter costs.

Two purchased and two leased aircraft entered the fleet over summer 2012, bringing the combined number of Boeing 737 and 757 aircraft to 44.

Jet2 plans to increase winter 2012/13 capacity by 7% year-on-year, with growth coming in part from additional services to the Canary Islands and Grenoble. Summer 2013 will then see 11% capacity growth, matching this year's seasonal expansion.

The group says the European Court of Justice's decision to uphold passenger rights under EU Regulation 261 creates "potential additional compensation costs for the aviation sector", which it plans to review over the coming months.

It also notes that ongoing growth is being accompanied by increasing seasonality, which means that "increased winter losses are to be expected".

Overall, however, the group's outlook is cautiously optimistic: "Notwithstanding this, and the current economic climate, the board expects to exceed current market expectations for the year ending 31 March 2013."