LONDON -- In its Q1 results released this morning, easyJet (LSE:EZJ) announced total revenues of £833 million -- a 9.2% increase year on year, driven by strong growth in unit revenues and improved load factors.

Today's interim management statement continues the success story of Europe's leading airline, which has almost tripled in value since floating on the stock market in 2000 at an offer price of 310 pence. Today's boost in share price -- up 3.5% at the time of writing -- sees it sit around 885 pence, and the company's growth looks set to continue.

Revenue per seat rose 8% (or 3.9% on a reported basis) to £53.87 per seat, while cost per seat excluding fuel increased 0.5% (2.9% on a reported basis). Management pointed toward initiatives including the "europe by easyJet" campaign, as well as exceptionally mild weather in the quarter and limited external industrial action for these performances.

The number of passengers traveling with the airline jumped 6.2% compared to the same period last year, to 13.7 million, while seats flown grew 5% to 15.5 million. easyJet chief executive Carolyn McCall commented:

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 company retains a strong balance sheet with cash and money market deposits of £833 million -- excluding restricted cash -- as at Dec. 31, 2012. In addition, 80% of first-half seats are now booked, and easyJet expects to contain H1 loss before tax to between £50 million and £75 million compared to the £112 million loss reported in the first half of last year (assuming a normal level of disruption in Q2).

Today's gains mean that easyJet's shares are now up 200 pence since reporting final results in November -- who said airlines were a bad investment?!

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