Aer Lingus and British Airways-owner IAG said today it had seen a strong recovery in business travel in the first quarter and it expected to be profitable from the second quarter onwards and for the full year.
The company, which also owns Iberia and Vueling, said the continued easing of government-imposed travel restrictions, resulted in improved travel demand.
It added that it was seeing no noticeable impact from the war in Ukraine.
“Demand is recovering strongly in line with our previous expectations,” chief executive Luis Gallego said, adding that the company was currently focused on improving operations, customer experience and its operational resilience.
British Airways was hit by separate technical issues in February and March and also had to cancel a small number of flights in April due to staff sickness and delays in ramping up crew levels.
IAG said it would ramp up capacity from 65% of 2019 levels in the first quarter to around 80% in the second, 85% in the third and 90% in the fourth.
Its North Atlantic routes will be close to full capacity by quarter three, it predicted.
The chief executive of IAG said the impact of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 at the beginning of the year and the cost of ramping up capacity caused it to report a first-quarter operating loss short of analyst expectations.
The airline group reported an operating loss before exceptionals of €754m.
This missed average analyst consensus which stood at a loss of €510m, although the range spanned a loss of €1.15 billion to a loss of €250m.
“The main reason for the deviation with consensus is the Omicron impact that was mainly in January and February (and) the ramp up costs because we want to be close to 90% of our capacity during the summer,” chief executive Luis Gallego told reporters today.