British Airways owner International Airlines Group (IAG) said a “recovery is underway” today as it closed losses for the year and reported a rise in passengers.

Passenger revenues grew by 5.9 per cent to close losses down €2.7bn, which IAG said had been driven by a rise in cash flow of €1bn in the second half of 2021.

The firm said that current passenger capacity plans for 2022 are for around 65 per cent of 2019 levels and for around 85% of 2019 capacity.

Luis Gallego, IAG’s Chief Executive Officer, said a “strong recovery” was underway.

“Our teams across the Group are taking every opportunity to develop our business while capitalising on the surge in bookings when travel restrictions are lifted,” he said.

“Our people’s extraordinary work and dedication has been key to weather this crisis. We are also monitoring recent geopolitical events closely to manage any potential impact.

“All our airlines continued to show improvements in the fourth quarter, optimising their performance and further improving their operating results. Our diversified business model enabled us to make the most of the recovery as individual markets were affected at different times and in different ways.

The firm’s Spanish Iberia airline made €82m operating profit in the final quarter of the year as it seized opportunities to strengthen its position on routes on Spain’s domestic market.

The firm said that before the Omicron variant of covid-19 emerge, longhaul traffic had seen the highest booking activity in October and November at over 80 per cent of 2019 levels, driven by the re-opening of the North Atlantic corridor and the strength of longhaul leisure markets.

But demand slowed down following the emergence of Omicron in late November.

Bosses said bookings have remained strong for Easter and summer 2022 having picked up in the New Year, and they now expect a strong summer at around 85% of its 2019 capacity for the full year.

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British Airways owner IAG closes losses as it heads towards recovery

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