LONDON (AP) – The parent of British Airways reported its first full-year profit since the start of the pandemic as COVID-19 travel restrictions were eased and said it continues to see strong bookings for leisure travel.
International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG), which also owns Spain’s Iberia and Vueling and Irish carrier Aer Lingus, said on Friday that it expects adjusted profit to grow this year after a weak first quarter.
CEO Luis Gallego said that although bookings are strong so far in 2023, business travel still lags behind leisure travel, which contributes to the company’s outlook for a first-quarter operating loss of about EUR200 million.
Still, IAG forecast full-year operating profit – which excludes certain costs – to be between EUR1.8 billion to EUR2.3 billion, up from EUR1.26 billion in 2022.
The recovery at the Anglo-Spanish company follows similar upbeat reports from other airlines including Air France-KLM that have seen their fortunes improve on strong travel demand coming out of the worst part of the pandemic.
IAG said it earned an after-tax profit of EUR232 million in the fourth quarter and EUR431 million for the full year. Analysts expected full-year earnings of EUR397 million, according to a FactSet survey. The company lost EUR2.93 billion in 2021.
Full-year revenue nearly tripled, to more than EUR23 billion.
The company’s airlines were back to about 87 per cent of pre-pandemic flying by the end of last year. The drop was sharpest at British Airways, partly because of traffic limits at London’s Heathrow Airport, which struggled to cope with rising demand.