Low-cost airline easyJet said it expects lower half-year losses after a strong start to the ski season and record numbers of business travellers.

The Luton-based carrier last month achieved the milestone of flying 10 million business passengers over the past year, and hopes this will increase further after completing the roll-out of seat allocation.

EasyJet posted a 9.2% rise in revenues to £833m over the three months to the end of December after flying 13.7 million passengers, up 6.2% on a year earlier.

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The group expects to deliver a strong improvement in first-half figures, which traditionally show a seasonal loss for the airline. EasyJet is forecasting pre-tax losses of between £50m and £75m, down from £112m a year ago.

Shares opened 4% higher yesterday and have already climbed 16% this year.

The group said: "EasyJet has had a stronger than expected first quarter, however the consumer environment is expected to remain tough and the impact of government austerity measures means that the industrial relations climate across Europe is expected to be increasingly difficult."