Easyjet CEO: Company has 'strong balance sheet'

Just four months into the job, Easyjet's new CEO has led the company to a 182% jump in earnings.

The budget airline's pre-tax profit has come in at $247m (£154m) - thanks in part to an 8% boost in passenger numbers. The British firm has also announced it is to offer investors its first ever dividend. The payments will start in 2012 - something which should please its founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou who demanded the move.

Easyjet's chief executive, Carolyn McCall said that much of the high profit could be explained by an eight per cent rise in passenger numbers.