Ferry company Irish Continental Group has reported an increase in revenue and a return to profit for the first four months of the year on the back of passenger and freight gains.

In an interim management statement the company – which operates the Irish Ferries brand – said its revenues for January to April were 7.3% higher year-on-year at €85.1m.

It also reduced operating costs by 1.6% to €74.8m during the period, which allowed it to record a €4.4m operating profit compared to a €2.3m loss in the same period of last year.

The group had also reduced its net debt to €45.5m by the end of April, compared to €61.2m by the end of last year.

The revenue growth came as volumes rose across most of the groups divisions.

It reported an 8% annual increase in the number of cars carried in the year to 9 May at 94,800.

Total passenger numbers were up 3% year-on-year at 418,600, it said.

Its roll-on, roll-off freight market – where commercial vehicles are driven onto ships – was up 11% after Irish Ferries carried 91,800 units.

However its container freight volumes – where containers are lifted on to ships – was down 1% to 100,000 twenty foot-equivalent units.

In its statement, ICG also noted that its business is significantly weighed towards the second half of the year, when a higher proportion of its operating profit is generated.