Profits at budget carrier Wizz Air rose by more than 50% to €224 million in the year to March 31.

The increase came as passenger numbers rose by 21% to 20 million with an improved load factor of 88.2%.

Ticket revenue was up by 13% to €895 million while ancillary revenue grew by 23% to €534 million or by 2% to €27 per passenger.

This came as the eastern and central European carrier added 69 new routes over the 12 months and opened four new bases.

The airline expects annual profits to rise at a lesser rate to between €245 million and €255 million in the current financial year.

Chief executive, Jozef Varadi, said: “I am delighted to report another remarkable year for us as we delivered a strong operating performance across all key metrics.

“We continue to build on our market leadership in central and eastern Europe and have a strong balance sheet and an attractive order book of existing and new technology aircraft to drive growth.

“We delivered an underlying net profit after tax of €224 million, an increase of 53% compared to full year 2015.

“Our underlying net profit margin increased from 11.9% to 15.7% over the course of the financial year and passenger numbers increased by 21.2% to 20 million.

“Notwithstanding the fact that Easter fell one week earlier in 2016 than in 2015 pushing a higher proportion of this high yield traffic into full year 2016, we currently expect a further significant rise in the group’s net profit for the current financial year to 31 March 2017 to a range of between €245 million and €255 million.

“This guidance is heavily caveated by the revenue performance for the second half of full year 2017, a period for which we currently have limited visibility.

“We will continue to expand our route network, drive efficiency in our operating model, and enhance our compelling customer proposition to sustain growth and drive returns for shareholders.”