(Corrects currency conversion to USD in paragraph 2)
July 11 (Reuters) - Dart Group, the owner of British airline and tour operator Jet2, reported higher annual pretax profit on Thursday as Britons booked more holidays and said it expected to meet market expectations for the new financial year.
The company, which runs Britain's third biggest airline in terms of passenger numbers behind easyJet and British Airways, said pretax profit rose 36% to 177.5 million pounds ($222.41 million) for the year ended March 31.
Dart, which recommended an increased final dividend of 7.4 pence per share, said its operating loss for the second-half increased because of investment in additional aircrafts and marketing along with the increasing costs of retaining and attracting staff.
The company also said because consumers were still hesitant in spending money in the second-half it lead to higher price discounting to achieve the planned growth in customer volumes.
"Though overall demand for our leisure travel products has continued to strengthen since the start of the new financial year, it is clear from our forward booking trends that generally, less confident consumers are booking later than last year," the company said.
Dart Group joined peers in flagging industry headwinds due to rising costs for fuel, carbon and other operating charges. European airlines are locked in a battle for supremacy with a number of smaller airlines having collapsed over the past two years.
Dart's airline Jet2.com competes against Ryanair and easyJet, while its package holiday business Jet2holidays competes against TUI and Thomas Cook.
$1 = 0.7981 pounds Reporting by Tanishaa Nadkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur, Bernard Orr