UK-based budget airline easyJet will carry more passengers next year than British Airways if current estimates prove correct.

Despite the Iraq war, the group reported a 79% surge in passenger numbers to 20.3 million in the twelve months to September. Growth of around 20% is forecast for 2004, which would take easyJet's total to around 24m -- ahead of BA.

The upbeat forecast comes despite a slump in easyJet's profits. Pre-tax earnings for the financial year tumbled 28% to £52m ($88.3m; €74.1m), after the carrier lost £48m in the first half. Full-year revenues, however, surged 69% to £932m.

Data sourced from: Times Online (UK); additional content by WARC staff