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Last Updated: Friday, 5 March, 2004, 07:33 GMT
Easyjet passenger numbers growing
Easyjet plane
Easyjet has had a good 2004 so far
Budget airline Easyjet said passenger numbers grew 17.4% in February compared to the same month a year earlier.

The Luton-based no-frills carrier said it carried 1.86 million passengers in February, a rise of 17.4% on 2003.

Load factor - the number of passengers as a proportion of the number of seats available - was maintained at 89%.

"These figures confirm our comments at our recent AGM regarding both the performance of the company and outlook , " said chief executive Ray Webster.

'Cautiously optimistic'

Easyjet said last week it had performed well in its quarter ending on 31 December, surprising investors with a rise in its average fare to 39.87 ($72.68) from 38.62 pounds in the same period of 2002.

"We remain cautiously optimistic regarding our performance for the full financial year," Mr Webster said at the annual meeting.

During January, Easyjet and rival Ryanair overtook British Airways in the UK and Europe in terms of the number of customers they carried.

In February Easyjet said it was to establish Germany's Dortmund International Airport as its next European base.

Easyjet said it would introduce eight routes from Dortmund, starting at the end of May 2004.

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