Easyjet sees profits boost through seat booking option
Easyjet saw a 51% rise in yearly pre-tax profits to £478m, partly thanks to the introduction of allocated seats.
Chief executive Carolyn McCall said allowing passengers to book their seats had had a big impact on profitability.
"It's a nice, calmer boarding process, and a lot of people have taken up the option," she said.
Shares rose almost 6% in early trading, boosted by the airline's plans to hand out £175m to shareholders through a special dividend payment.
The payout, which works out at 44.5p per share, is in addition to Easyjet's regular ordinary dividend payment of £133m, or 33.5p a share, based on its existing policy of paying out one third of annual profit after tax.
Easyjet said 60.8 million passengers flew with it during the year ending 30 September.
Ms McCall said the results reflected the airline's advantage in the European short-haul market and that Easyjet's "disciplined approach" to capacity helped.
The airline also cited growth in Europe and the takeover of Flybe's slots at Gatwick airport as factors behind the profit rise.
Easyjet said it saw average profits per seat rise 46%, from £7.03 last year from £4.81 a seat in 2012.
However, it warned that it would see a tougher start to the new financial year, due to the success of the business a year earlier, when pent-up demand after the Olympics drove a leap in business.
It said that, so far, bookings for the first half of the year were flat on a year earlier.
But it still expects to increase passenger numbers over the year ahead with seats flown forecast to rise by around 3.5% in the first half and 5% in the full year.