Aer Lingus has recorded its best quarter since the financial crisis in 2008 and said it now expects its full year operating profit to be ahead of the 2013 result. 

In an interim management statement, the airline reported operating profit of €112.9m for the three months to the end of September, up 19% on the same time last year.

Revenues for the three months rose by 13.9% % to €509.32m from €447.2m. 

The airline noted that growth on its long haul routes, primarily to the US, was strong with revenues from long haul passengers up 34% to €176m.

New routes to San Francisco and Toronto and increased frequencies on existing routes increased capacity by almost 29%. 

Revenues on its short haul routes increased by 5.5% to €274.2m from €259.9m.

During the three month period, the airline said it had to address the effects of actual and threatened industrial action earlier in the year, with bookings at the end of June being €10m lower than expected. 

It also noted that the previous year's third quarter results were hit by exceptional weather conditions, which negatively affected trading and a big increase in short haul price competition.

Aer Lingus shares were more than 7.7% higher by the close of business in Dublin today.

Fuel costs in the third quarter increased by 10.2% to €114.3m due to an 11.9% increase in fuel consumption which was partly offset by lower fuel prices. 

Aer Lingus is usually seasonally loss making in the fourth quarter and this is expected to be the case again this year. 

It said today that this year's Q4 operating results will reflect its expanded fleet. "For this reason, we expect the Q4 2014 operating loss will be higher than that reported for the same period in 2013," the airline stated.

"Notwithstanding this, and assuming the current trading environment is maintained, management now expect that Aer Lingus' full year 2014 operating profit, before exceptional items, will be ahead of the 2013 operating result of €61.1m," commented the airline's chief executive Christoph Mueller. 

Earlier this week, rival airline Ryanair lifted its profit forecast for the financial year to between €750m and €770m from its original guidance of €650m.

Ryanair said its net profits for the six months to the end of September were up by over a third to €795m compared to €602m the same time last year. 

Aer Lingus launches new Dublin-Washington route

Aer Lingus has announced a new Dublin to Washington-Dulles route as part of its preliminary summer schedule for next year.

The new Washington service will be the airline's ninth transatlantic route and will start in May.

The airline also said it would increase capacity on its other transatlantic routes for next Summer, including a daily flight from Dublin to San Francisco, up from its five time a week service which it currently operates. 

It will also start a third daily flight from Dublin to New York from June to August, while it will increase frequencies on the Dublin to Orlando route from three to four flights a week.

Capacity will also be increased on the Shannon-Boston route by 20% for 12 weeks in the peak summer months.

For next summer, Aer Lingus said its overall long haul capacity will increase by 18.4% in the peak summer months.

Its short haul capacity will also see an increase with new routes to Agadir in Morocco and Nantes in France.

The number of flights will also increase on popular holiday routes including Fuerteventura, Palma, Bordeaux, Venice and Bilbao.