British no-frills airline easyJet on Tuesday announced a leap in annual profits as increased demand for its flights across Europe offset higher costs. Net profit surged 56 percent to £398 million ($641 million, 474 million euros) in the year to September 30 compared with the group's performance in 2011/12, easyJet said in an earnings statement. It added that £308 million would be returned to shareholders via dividend payments. Pre-tax profit jumped 50.9 percent to £478 million, in line with the airline's own raised forecast given last month. Revenue rose 10.5 percent to £4.258 billion in the reporting period. Costs excluding jet fuel grew to £2.598 billion, while fuel charges climbed to £1.182 billion. "As evidence of our continued confidence in the future prospects of the business, the board has recommended to return £308 million to shareholders through the combination of an ordinary and special dividend," easyJet chief executive Carolyn McCall said in the statement. "We will continue to deliver our strategy of offering our customers low fares to great destinations with friendly service so that we can continue to win in a more competitive market. This means we are well placed to continue to deliver sustainable returns and growth for our shareholders," she added. EasyJet had said in October that annual profits would be at the upper end of expectations, and cited keen demand for flights during July and August. The carrier had revised higher its pre-tax profits forecast to between £470 million and £480 million. That compared with its prior July guidance of between £450 million and £480 million.