Yeadon holiday firm is now third biggest UK tour operator

Ilkley Gazette: Founder and chairman of Jet2holidays Philip Meeson Founder and chairman of Jet2holidays Philip Meeson

The owner of package holiday firm Jet2holidays has become the UK’s third biggest tour operator following a surge in business over the past year and is confident of further growth.

The Yeadon-based operator, part of the Dart Group which also owns leisure airline Jet2.com and a logistics operation, boosted customer numbers by 93 per cent to 417,000 in the year to March 31, compared with 216,000 a year earlier.

Founder and chairman Philip Meeson said increasing repeat business for the family-focused holiday operator would underpin growth. which would also be boosted by advertising and social media marketing.

Expanding its package holiday business was a key factor in a year of strong growth for Dart, which is based at Leeds-Bradford International Airport.

The group increased turnover by 27 per cent to £869 million from a £683 million with pre-tax profits climbing to £40.5 million against £28.1 million in 2011-12.revenue increased 114 per cent to £245 million, up from £115 million.

Mr Meeson said the package holiday growth reflected further development of the Jet2holidays 1,500-strong hotel product range and a fully integrated approach with the Jet2.com airline, which had increased capacity to meet the demand for holidays in the Mediterranean, the Canary Islands and city breaks.

Jet2holidays more than doubled pre-tax profits from £2.5 million to £6.8 million as turnover rose to £244.8 million against £114.5 million. Profits at the Jet2.com airline business increased to £29.3 million from £21.7 million as overall demand for seats, boosted by demand from Jet2holidays, resulted in higher load factors and increased yields.

Fowler Welch, the distribution and logistics business, improved operating margins and raised pre-tax profits from £3.9 million to £4.4 million. The group increased capital expenditure to £79.7 million from £47.3 million, mainly through the acquisition of seven aircraft, including two Boeing 737-800s, and long-term maintenance spend on aircraft and engines.

Mr Meeson said: “Each of our businesses have great opportunities in their respective marketplaces together with strong and energetic management in place. Jet2holidays is set for further growth in the current year, with forward bookings at encouraging levels.

“We have expanded Jet2.com's flying programme by 12 per cent for summer 2013, although margins will continue to remain challenging in this sector.”

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