Surging demand for transatlantic flights and a turnaround at Spain’s Iberia helped International Airlines Group, the owner of British Airways, more than double profits to €1.1bn (£801m) last year.
Helped by cheaper fuel bills, the chief executive Willie Walsh also hiked operating profit expectations for this year by 20 per cent to more than €2.2bn. The shares flew up in response, up 20.5p to 580p.
IAG is trying to buy Ireland’s Aer Lingus for €1.4bn, but the Irish Government, which holds a 25 per cent stake, has not yet backed the deal. Mr Walsh played down the chance of IAG going hostile, saying: “Our approach is based on the Irish Government and Ryanair [which owns 30 per cent] giving us their irrevocable commitment to sell their shares.”
He also revealed that two European carriers had been in touch about an IAG takeover: “We had direct approaches...We took a bit of time to evaluate them, but concluded against pursuing them.”
He predicted another Coalition after the election, saying: “Whoever it is, we’ll continue to push them to...get rid of air passenger duty.”Reuse content