A former senior executive at Airbus is joining Wizz Air as an independent non-executive director.

Barry Eccleston recently retired as chief executive of Airbus Americas and takes up his role at the Hungarian budget airline on June 1.

The appointment came as the airline revealed a 25% jump in passenger carryings to almost 30 million in the year to March 31.

Net profit for the year rose by 22.1% to a record €275 million as ticket revenue soared by 23.7% to €1.1 billion and ancillary revenue went up by 24.4% to €816 million.

The airline projects carryings to increase further to 36 million with profits up to as much as €340 million in the current financial year despite higher fuel prices.

Wizz Air chief executive József Varadi said: “The 2018 financial year was another year of investment and driving efficiencies in Wizz Air’s operations as we continue to our mission to become Europe’s undisputed airline cost leader.

“This relentless focus on cost means we continue to stimulate the market through the lowest fares, resulting in record passenger numbers of almost 30 million, up 25% year on year.

“A backdrop of high economic growth rates across the CEE [central and eastern Europe] and the opportunities created by Wizz Air’s ultra-low fares underpins our business which has seen revenues increase by 24% and net profit of a record €275 million, an increase of 22% year-on-year.

“Our cost focus, market leading position in CEE, pipeline of truly game changing Airbus A320neo family technology and balance sheet strength, as reflected in our recently awarded investment grade credit ratings, are the strongest of foundations for Wizz Air to continue to drive profitable growth and achieve one of the best profit margins of all European airlines, ensuring Wizz Air remains one of the most exciting airline businesses in the world.

“As full year 2019 financial year begins we remain very optimistic for the coming 12 months.

“Higher fuel prices are supporting a stronger fare environment and we expect these macro conditions to provide Wizz Air with market share opportunities as weaker carriers withdraw unprofitable capacity.

“Our ability to drive cost advantage further and offer lower fares across our ever expanding network will lead to an expected 20% increase in passenger numbers to 36 million in FY 2019.”

He added that the carrier recorded a “solid start” to the current financial year, “a good performance given the absence of Easter traffic which fell into the last financial year”.

“Although still at an early stage of the financial year, the group net profit is expected to be in a range of between €310 million and €340 million in full year 2019,” Varadi said.

Wizz Air currently operates a fleet of almost 100 Airbus A320 and A321s and is in the process of considering finance options for new A319neos due to be delivered from next year.

The carrier also has orders placed for additional A320neos from 2022.

Wizz Air chairman William Franke said today: “I am delighted that Barry has agreed to join the board of Wizz Air.

“He brings to the board significant expertise following his successful international career at the highest levels of some of the world’s largest aviation manufacturers.

“His knowledge on both technical and business levels will be particularly beneficial to Wizz Air as we continue to drive to become the undisputed cost leader among European airlines, in part through continuing our policy of using the latest-technology equipment.”