Starbucks and Upper Crust operator SSP has reported a 4.3% increase in sales for the first quarter of its financial year.

The business, which has food and beverage outlets in travel locations across the globe, said like-for-like sales growth had remained positive in the UK and Continental Europe, driven by a rise in air passenger numbers.

Positive business trends seen in North America last year had continued in the first quarter of 2017, reported SSP, which added that sales growth in the rest of the world was in line with expectations.

The company’s 4.3% sales growth comprised a 2.4% increase in like-for-like sales and net contract gains of 1.9%.

SSP completed its initial investment in a joint venture with Travel Food Services in India in December 2016, which added a further 1.1% to sales, bringing total group revenue increase in the first quarter to 5.4%.

“The new financial year has started in line with our expectations and the pipeline of new contracts is encouraging, although it is always difficult to predict the precise timing of the openings of new units,” said the business in its trading update.

“Whilst a degree of uncertainty always exists around passenger numbers in the short term, we continue to be well placed to benefit from the structural growth opportunities in our markets and our programme of operational improvements.”

Last year SSP announced it had secured an agreement with Paul Hollywood to open a new bakery concept called Knead that will sell “artisan sandwiches, cakes and pastries” - including a sausage roll that will be sold by the inch.