Ryanair chief operations officer Peter Bellew is to join arch rival easyJet in an identical role.

The appointment was revealed as the UK budget carrier reported that it was on course to deliver pre-tax profits for the year to September 30 of between £400 million-£440 million, described as being in line with market expectations.

EasyJet has sold 78% of its seats for the summer period, with passenger carryings up by 8% to 26.4 million in the three months to June 30 with revenue up by 11.4% to 1.7 billion.

However, the load factor fell by 1.7 percentage points as expected to 91.7%, “due to late yield initiatives as well as high prior year comparatives due to industrial action in France and Monarch’s bankruptcy”.

EasyJet said it had delivered a “robust performance” in the last quarter despite a softening of demand due to “tougher macroeconomic conditions across Europe as well as Brexit-related consumer uncertainty in the UK”.

The airline reported a decline in flights cancellations to 847 in the third quarter against 2,606 in the same period last year. Delays of more than three hours declined by 32% year-on-year.

Bellew has been with Ryanair in his second spell since December 2017 and was responsible for all aspects of the carrier’s flight operations. He announced last week that he would be leaving at the of the year.

At easyJet, he will be a member of airline management board and report to CEO Johan Lundgren.

Lundgren said: “EasyJet’s third quarter performance was robust and despite the tougher macroeconomic conditions was in line with expectations.

“Revenue increased by over 11% with RPS [revenue per seat] increasing through a combination of successful revenue initiatives, a solid Easter performance and a focus on late yield initiatives, with passenger numbers climbing by two million to over 26 million.

“Our customers experienced significantly reduced cancellations and long delays largely as a result of our investment in operational resilience, which also contributed significantly to driving down cost per seat ex fuel at constant currency by 4% in the period.”

He added: “We remain very focused on delivering our revenue initiatives and driving costs down to enhance our profitability per seat.

“With second half forward bookings at 78% we have better visibility on the second half and expect to deliver a profit before tax of between £400 million and £440 million, in line with market expectations.”