Aer Lingus owner breaks through 100 million passenger barrier for first time
IAG's airlines, which include Aer Lingus, carried more than 100 million passengers last year - the first time in its six-year history that the group has broken through the 100 million barrier.
Figures released by IAG yesterday showed that it carried 100.6 million passengers in 2016. That was a 14pc increase in 2015. Last year was the first full year of ownership for IAG of Aer Lingus, which it acquired in August 2015 for €1.3bn.
IAG's other airlines include British Airways, Iberia and Vueling.
IAG ceo Willie Walsh said the group had gone from "strength to strength" and added that its flights last year were, on average, 81.6pc full.
He also praised Iberia, which IAG has massively restructured since it merged with British Airways in 2010 to effectively form IAG.
Mr Walsh said that Iberia has now become both "financially and operationally stronger".
IAG also said that no final decision has been made regarding its so-called "next generation" long-haul operation that will be based in Barcelona from June, using two Airbus A330 jets.
Destinations being considered for the service include Los Angeles, San Francisco, Buenos Aires, Tokyo, Havana and Santiago de Chile.
"Options for the new operation include setting up a new airline or [to] consider using existing resources from IAG's airlines," said IAG.
Mr Walsh has previously acknowledged that the Aer Lingus brand could be used to set up a base outside Ireland.
Group IAG traffic for 2016, measured in revenue passenger kilometres, was 9.7pc higher than in 2015. Capacity, measured in available seat kilometres, was up 9.4pc.
Aer Lingus is the most profitable unit within IAG. During the third quarter it had a 29.7pc operating margin.
That was more than the 18.6pc at British Airways, the 17.4pc at Vueling, and 15.9pc at Iberia.
Aer Lingus has rapidly expanded its transatlantic services under IAG's ownership.
Last year it launched a new route between Dublin and Hartford, Connecticut, and also relaunched its service between Dublin and Los Angeles.
This year, it will inaugurate a service between Dublin and Miami.
IAG's traffic statistics published yesterday show that revenue passenger kilometres at Aer Lingus were 11.7pc higher in December, and available seat kilometres were up 11.1pc.