Easyjet has announced plans to become the "first major airline to operate net-zero carbon flights" as it pushes forward with a sustainability programme which will see it offset the carbon emissions from the fuel of all of its flights.

It said it will invest in forestry, renewables and community-based projects to offset its carbon impact.

The firm highlighted that it is "only an interim measure" while new technologies are being developed, including efforts to develop hybrid and electric planes.

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EasyJet also relaunched its package holiday business as it looks to increase customer numbers following the collapse of major competitor Thomas Cook.

It made the announcement as it reported lower profits despite record passenger numbers in the year to September, as it was impacted by "some weakness in consumer confidence".

The budget airline reported a 26% drop in pre-tax profits to £427 million for the 12 months to September 30.

Revenues jumped by 8.3% to £6.4 billion on the back of increased capacity.

However, total revenue per seat decreased by 1.8% to £60.81 through the period, as the company blamed weaker confidence due to "uncertainty" surrounding Brexit.

It said revenue per seat was better in the second half of the year, due to its initiatives as well as the positive impact of strikes at rivals British Airways and Ryanair.

Chief executive Johan Lundgren said: "EasyJet finished the 2019 financial year with a strong performance across the business and a record summer.

"I am really thrilled that with the launch before Christmas of our brand new EasyJet Holidays business, we are bringing flexibility and excellent value to the holiday market.

"We believe there is a gap in the market for a modern, relevant and flexible business for today's consumer."

EI Group, the pub giant which has agreed to be bought by rival Stonegate for £1.28 billion, has posted lower earnings after the sale of 354 properties.

The company, which operates around 4,000 pubs across the UK, fell to earnings before tax and interest of £276 million for the year to September 30, from £287 million the previous year.

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Revenues moved higher on the back of growth for its managed pubs and publican partnership divisions.

Simon Townsend, chief executive officer of EI Group, said: "We are pleased to have maintained the strong trading performance for the year, particularly given the challenging trading comparatives from the summer last year.

"The approach by Stonegate to acquire the business is recognition of the strength of our strategy and the value of our high-quality pub estate.

"Stonegate has indicated its intention to continue our strategy of improving the quality of the estate following completion of the acquisition, by ensuring the right consumer proposition is available in each of its pubs supported by the best people, utilising the optimum operating model."

Electricals retailer AO World has remained in the red with half-year pre-tax losses of £5.9 million as woes in its European arm offset better trading in the UK.

The group reported pre-tax losses of £5.9 million for the six months to September 30, although this was an improvement on the £10.9 million posted a year earlier.

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AO World said operating losses remained flat at £10.6 million.
John Roberts, AO founder and chief executive, said there were "green shoots of profitable growth" across its UK business, where like-for-like sales rose 4.5%.

Underlying earnings in the UK lifted to £7.8 million from £6.9 million.

The European business saw underlying losses widen to €15.9 million (£13.6 million) from €13.8 million (£11.8 million) after sales fell 3.4%.

AO World revealed plans to shut its Netherlands arm and focus efforts on turning around its German business.