EasyJet saw revenue rise by 9.2% to £833 million in the three months to the end of December with the help of improved load factors.
The number of passengers carried grew by 6.2% to 15.5 million against the same period in 2011. Traditional winter losses are expected to be halved.
“This better than expected performance was driven by lower disruption costs as a result of exceptionally mild weather in the quarter and limited external industrial action,” the airline said.
The budget airline’s first quarter does not include the six successive days of snow disruption so far this month.
However, easyJet said: “With around 80% of first half seats now booked, easyJet expects to contain first half loss before tax to between £50 million and £75 million compared to the £112 million loss reported in the first half of last year. This assumes a normal level of disruption in the second quarter.
“With around 15% of second half seats sold year to date, in line with this time last year, it is still too early to give guidance on second half yields or profit.
“EasyJet has had a stronger than expected first quarter, however the consumer environment is expected to remain tough and the impact of government austerity measures means that the industrial relations climate across Europe is expected to be increasingly difficult.”
Chief executive Carolyn McCall said: “EasyJet has made a strong start to the year due to a combination of management action, competitor capacity reductions and the benign operating environment.
“The good performance in the quarter and the structurally advantageous position that easyJet occupies in the European short-haul market means we remain confident in our outlook for the business.
“Although the economic environment remains challenging, easyJet’s strong customer proposition, combined with the actions that management are taking, ensures that easyJet is well positioned going forward to deliver sustainable growth and returns.”
The airline continues to make “good progress” on its evaluation of the next generation of short-haul aircraft.
“The technical evaluation has been completed and it is clear that there is a substantial operating cost advantage from the next generation engine technology. The commercial evaluation and discussions are well underway.”
It may consider converting options for three A320s under the terms of an existing agreement with Airbus.
“This will ensure there is sufficient capacity to fly the planned 2014 summer programme whilst the proposal to shareholders covering both the next generation of deliveries which are likely to be after 2017 and a plan for the bridging period from 2015 to 2017 is finalised,” the airline said.
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