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, which also owns Spain’s Iberia and Vueling and Irish carrier Aer Lingus, said 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 200 million euros ($211 million).
Still, IAG forecast full-year operating profit — which excludes certain costs — to be between 1.8 billion euros ($1.9 billion) to 2.3 billion euros ($2.4 billion), up from 1.26 billion ($1.33 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 232 million euros ($245 million) in the fourth quarter and 431 million euros ($455 million) for the full year. Analysts expected full-year earnings of 397 million euros ($419 million), according to a FactSet survey. The company lost 2.93 billion euros ($3.09 billion) in 2021.
Full-year revenue nearly tripled, to more than 23 billion euros ($24.3 billion).
The company's airlines were back to about 87% 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.
IAG said it expects passenger-carrying capacity to hit 98% of 2019 levels this year.