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Profits jump at easyJet as carrier defies Brexit gloom

EASYJET has shrugged off strike action and Brexit uncertainty to post a 41 per cent increase in annual profits.

CEO Johan Lundgren hailed a ‘great performance’ for the low-cost airline as it reported pre-tax profits of £578million, a record number of passengers carried and soaring revenues.

But cancellations rose significantly, to 6,814 from 2,502 the previous year. Airlines suffered from industrial action by air traffic controllers over the summer in France and Italy. Mr Lundgren said: ‘While disruption continues to be a major challenge for the industry, we are investing in resilience to help to mitigate the impact on our customers.’

Despite Brexit, UK consumer demand remains strong, with bookings for next summer ‘slightly ahead’ of 2018, easyJet said.

As part of its preparations for Brexit it has set itself up across Europe to enable ongoing flights. It added: ‘Both the EU and the UK have said their objective is to maintain flights between the EU and the UK, whatever the Brexit outcome.’

Full-year results for the year ending September 30 showed the group flew a record number of passengers, up 10.2 per cent at 88.5million, with total revenues up 16.8 per cent to £5.9billion. Pre-tax profits were up significantly on the £408million seen last year.

But easyJet warned that cost pressures will continue into its new financial year, with a hit of up to £100million expected from rising fuel prices.

AO World ‘relying on second-half results’

AO WORLD saw sales rise and losses narrow in the first half of its financial year, but will have to rely on second-half results to meet annual expectations.

The online electricals retailer posted an £11.7million operating loss in the six months to September 30, down from £12million in the same period last year.

Revenue increased by 9.9 per cent to £404.2million, but against a ‘challenging backdrop’ in UK and German markets.

AO World predicted full-year results will meet expectations ‘albeit more second-half weighted than anticipated’.

Nissan shares in reverse gear after chairman is arrested

Under arrest: Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn with his wife Carole PICTURE: AP

SHARES in Nissan have fallen after the arrest of chairman Carlos Ghosn on charges he under-reported his pay package and misused company funds.

The 64-year-old Brazilian-born executive is being held in Tokyo for allegedly collaborating to falsify securities statements and under report his £34.5million income from 2011 to 2015, said prosecutors.

They have 48 hours to decide whether to charge him but can apply to hold him for 20 days.

Nissan shares fell five per cent in Tokyo trading, while in Paris shares fell 8.4 per cent in Renault, where Mr Ghosn is also chief executive.

A second Nissan executive, Greg Kelly, is suspected of collaborating with Mr Ghosn. Nissan chief executive Hiroto Saikawa said the board will meet tomorrow to approve the dismissal of Mr Ghosn and Mr Kelly. He said power was too concentrated in one person and the scandal was a ‘negative outcome of the long regime of Mr Ghosn’.

‘Beyond being sorry, I feel great disappointment, frustration, despair, indignation and resentment,’ he said.

Japanese chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga said the government was watching for economic fallout.

The arrest has thrown into question Mr Ghosn’s leadership of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance, which sold 10.6million cars last year. Renault owns 43 per cent of Nissan, which in turn owns 15 per cent of Renault and 34 per cent of Mitsubishi.

Business Bites

■ SIEMENS AG has won a £1.5billion order for new trains on the Piccadilly line on London Underground. The German firm will supply 94 fully air-conditioned Tube trains with walk-through carriages by 2024 to replace 1970s stock. Siemens, which has plans to employ 700 people at a train factory in Goole, East Yorkshire, said the contract was awarded ‘with the expectation’ it would also build trains for the Bakerloo, Central, Waterloo & City lines.

■ PEOPLE spend an average £4.44 on a morning coffee and pastry with 8.54am peak buying time, found payments processor Worldpay. Coffee shop average payments in towns revealed the most expensive breakfast was £11.09 in Harrogate and the cheapest £2.24 in Wakefield. Some 85 per cent of transactions are contactless.

■ BONMARCHÉ has reported a 45 per cent fall in pre-tax profits for the half-year to September amid ‘weaker consumer sentiment and footfall’. The womenswear chain said profits dropped to £2.3million, despite online sales rising 28.9 per cent following a website rebrand. Like-for-like sales in stores were down four per cent.