Unusually severe winter weather in central and eastern Europe has forced Wizz Air to trim its annual profit forecast by about €20 million.

The disclosure came as the budget carrier reported a 20.1% rise in passenger carryings to 5.7 million in the three months to December 31 with a more than doubling of pre-tax profit to €33.1 million over the same period a year earlier.

This came as ticket revenues rose by 2.5% to €191.8 million and ancillary revenues up by 21% to €149.4 million.

Chief executive József Váradi said: “Although the current financial year is looking like a very good year for Wizz Air and we remain excited about our prospects for the next financial year, lower fuel prices continue to feed through to lower air fares, and this downward trend looks likely to continue well into 2017.

“Also, our operations this winter have been disrupted by unusually severe weather conditions in central and eastern Europe.

“As a result, management believes it is prudent to trim the company’s guidance for net profit for the full year from the existing range of between €245-€255 million to a range of between €225-€235 million.”

He described Wizz Air as remaining on track to strengthen its position during the 2017 financial year “through continued growth in our core markets and expansion of our network” following a 20% rise in capacity in 2016.

“The current environment of very low fares and increasing fuel prices presents excellent trading conditions for Wizz Air to continue securing its market leadership position while maintaining industry leading profitability,” added Váradi.

“Our ultra-low cost model is being reinforced with a delivery stream of brand new A321 aircraft which deliver double digit cost savings compared to A320 aircraft.

“By March 2018 Wizz Air will be operating 26 A321 aircraft – representing a third of the airline’s seat capacity – which will give us a clear cost advantage versus most of our rivals.

“This winning formula leaves Wizz Air well placed to continue to deliver significant growth and returns for our shareholders.”