EasyJet has boosted profits by 51% and is returning £308m to shareholders. Its allocated seating and website improvements helped it to boost pre-tax profit and investors will be delighted by the size of the dividend payout.

It is recommending a return to shareholders of £175m in the form of a special dividend of 44.1p a share subject to shareholder approval, in addition to the regular ordinary dividend of £133m or 33.5p a share based on its existing policy of paying out one third of annual profit after tax.

Haji-Iouannou has criticised the airline’s management for buying too many new aircraft, saying profits should be returned to shareholders instead.

EasyJet has responded that it needs the new Airbus jets to replace existing aircraft and cater for expansion through to 2022 and beyond.

Total revenue per seat rose 7% to £62.58, seats flown rose 3.3% to 68m, the load factor – how full its aircraft were – increased 0.6 percentage points to 89.3% and passenger numbers rose 4% to 60.8m.

Costs per seat without fuel rose 3.9% but this headwind has not stopped this innovative company thinking up new ways to charge customers and they continue to increase market share.

Chief Executive Carolyn McCall said the airline still had an edge over national flag carriers as well as no-frills rivals such as Ryanair and Germanwings.

“EasyJet has delivered a strong full year performance and made significant progress against executing its strategic priorities. This means we are well placed to continue to deliver sustainable returns and growth for our shareholders.”