EASYJET has said it expects lower half-year losses after a strong start to the ski season and record numbers of business travellers.
The low cost carrier last month achieved the milestone of flying 10 million business passengers over the past year and hopes this will increase further after completing the roll-out of seat allocation.
EasyJet, which flies to Switzerland from Southend, posted a 9.2% rise in revenues to £833 million over the three months to the end of December after flying 13.7 million passengers, up 6.2% on a year earlier.
The group expects to deliver a strong improvement in first half figures, which traditionally show a seasonal loss for the airline, with easyJet forecasting pre-tax losses between £50 million and £75 million, from £112 million a year ago.
Shares opened 4% higher and have already climbed 16% this year.
It is continuing to benefit as embattled competitors scale back their services, with capacity among rivals down by 2.1% or 800,000 seats on easyJet routes over the final three months of 2012.
The "exceptionally mild" weather seen in the quarter also helped limit disruption, with easyJet cancelling 64 flights during the three months against 236 a year earlier.
But it said the heavy snow and adverse weather over the past week had since caused a surge in cancellations, at around 200 between Friday and Sunday alone, with French airports the worst affected.
The no frills airline has already sold around 80% of seats on its planes for the first half, but said it was still too early to gauge its full-year performance with only 15% of seats sold for the second half. It struck a cautious note over its full-year outlook, despite the robust start to its financial year.
The group said: "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."