British low-cost airline easyJet today posted a 28% rise in full-year profit.

It was helped by a surge in late summer demand and bucking tough conditions elsewhere in the airline sector.

Europe's second-largest budget airline after Ryanair reported a pretax profit of £317m sterling on revenues 11.6% higher at £3.85 billion for the year to the end of September.

In October, the airline had said it was expecting to report an annual pretax profit of between £310-320m.

The airline more than doubled its full year dividend to 21.5 pence and said it planned to amend the dividend policy from this year to pay out one-third of profit after tax each year, up from the one-fifth payout introduced last year.

EasyJet, the largest carrier at London's Gatwick airport, said passenger numbers rose 7.1% to 58.4 million during the year, with load factors - a measure of how full its planes are - up 1.4 percentage points to 88.7%.

"In light of the continued strong financial performance of easyJet and the confidence in easyJet's position within European short-haul aviation, the board has decided to amend the dividend policy from this year," said Carolyn McCall, who has helped double the airline's profits since she took over as chief executive in July 2010.

EasyJet's strong performance bucks tough conditions elsewhere in the airline sector where several carriers have been hit by a toxic mix of high fuel costs, weak consumer confidence and the euro zone crisis.

Earlier this month IAG's Spanish airline Iberia announced plans to axe almost a quarter of its workforce and rationalise its network under a restructuring plan.

Germany's Lufthansa, which has already slashed hundreds of jobs, also said it would step-up cost-cuts to counter rising fuel prices and limited growth in its core market.

Since the start of the year airlines including loss-making Spanair and Hungarian flag-carrier Malev have ceased operations, leaving gaps in the market that low-cost competitors have been quick to exploit.

EasyJet said a strong rise in summer bookings from Britain to Malaga and Alicante in Spain and Faro in Portugal had helped, while it also increased the number of flights between top business destinations during the year.

The airline, which will fly between London, Manchester and Moscow from next year, said its profit margins grew by 1 percentage point to 8.2% during the year, despite a £182m increase in its fuel costs. It expects its fuel bill to be around £30m higher in 2012/13.