Aer Lingus owner sees first quarter profits take off
Aer Lingus owner International Airlines Group (IAG) has reported a sharp increase in first quarter profit, helped in part by the timing of Easter.
IAG saw operating profit in the three months to March 31 rise 75pc to €280m, traditionally the weakest quarter of the year for airlines.
Revenue grew 2.1pc to €5bn as the group benefited from Easter falling within the reporting period.
IAG also said sales were boosted by service improvements, with a particularly strong showing in North America, Europe and Latin America.
Chief executive Willie Walsh said: "We're reporting another strong quarter performance with an operating profit of €280m before exceptional items, up from €160m last year.
"Our positive passenger unit revenue trend continued with an increase of 3.5pc at constant currency.
"This trend benefited partially from the timing of Easter. Despite higher market prices, our fuel unit costs have gone up by just 0.6pc in euros."
Profits were boosted by the stronger pound during the period, which bounced back against the dollar and the euro. It helped IAG book a net foreign exchange benefit of €58m.
IAG expects operating profit for 2018 to show an improvement year-on-year.
Last month the firm revealed that it is exploring a potential acquisition of low-cost carrier Norwegian Air Shuttle.
IAG said at the time that it has acquired a 4.61pc stake in the airline, which is "intended to establish a position from which to initiate discussions with Norwegian", including the possibility of a full offer for the firm.
However, the firm gave no further details regarding Norwegian on Friday.
As well as Aer Lingus, British Airways and Iberia, IAG also owns Spanish low-cost airline Vueling and recently launched a budget long-haul operator dubbed Level.