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The owner of British Airways expects to return to profit this quarter as the travel industry recovers from the worst impact of the pandemic and airlines rush to ramp up operations to meet flight demand.

International Airlines Group, owner of carriers including British Airways, Aer Lingus and Iberia, welcomed Friday the “strong” return of business travel, which reached its highest levels since the start of the pandemic. There has been “no noticeable impact” of the war in Ukraine on bookings, he said.

The company said it expected to post operating profit in the second quarter and for the full year, which would put two years and more than 10 billion euros in losses behind it.

IAG became the third airline in the European network, which operates a mix of short and long-haul flights, to report a strong summer after similar buoyant updates from Air France-KLM and Lufthansa this week.

“Demand is picking up strongly,” said IAG chief executive Luis Gallego.

The aviation industry has struggled to restart operations and BA has been forced to cancel hundreds of flights and cut schedules until June as it faces a staff shortage.

Gallego blamed “global” challenges but said BA was focused on “improving operations and customer experience and building operational resilience”.

IAG outlined plans to increase schedules to 80% of pre-pandemic levels this quarter and 85% over the following three months, including restoring nearly all normal capacity on transatlantic routes this summer.

The airline group recorded an operating loss after tax and exceptional items of 787 million euros in the first quarter, against 1.1 billion euros the previous year. Turnover increased from 968 million euros to 3.4 billion euros and cash increased slightly to 8.2 billion euros.

IAG shares fell 5% at the start of trading in London on Friday. They have lost about a third of their value over the past 12 months.


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