ROLLS-ROYCE has said a gradual improvement in flight demand and higher defence spending by governments has boosted trading over the start of the year.

It said its financial performance over the past four months has been "in line with expectations".

Warren East, Rolls-Royce chief executive, said the business has made "significant progress" in its recovery from the impact of the pandemic and was aided by major cost savings across its operations.

The firm, which eventually made 9,000 redundant over its global operations, last year said just under 600 jobs in Renfrewshire had been safeguarded from compulsory redundancy for five years following an agreement with Unite the union.

Rolls-Royce said the 575 roles secured by the contract are still in place at its Inchinnan site, which produces turbine blades and aerofoils, with no plans to announce any further job losses.

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The firm said it expects to keep up positive momentum during the rest of 2022 "despite the ongoing risks around macroeconomic uncertainties".

In a statement ahead of its annual general meeting, the company said flying hours in its large engine long-term service agreement were up 42 per cent on the prior year, because of increased passenger numbers.

Mr East, who is due to leave the firm at the end of year, said: "As a result of the actions we have taken, we have made significant progress on the path to recovery from the impact of Covid-19 and are emerging as a better balanced and more resilient business with a sustainable future, focused on the long-term business opportunities presented by the global energy transition."

Laura Hoy, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said that “we’re finally starting to see green shoots amid a budding recovery”.

Rolls-Royce shares closed up 1.1% at 81.38p.