IAG doubles full-year operating profit

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British Airways and Iberia parent International Airlines Group more than doubled operating profit for the full year to €485 million ($653 million), before exceptional items.

The company's pre-tax profit reached €503 million for the 12 months to 31 December 2011, including the first 21 days of January before IAG's formal consolidation.

IAG's revenues were up by more than 10% to €16.3 billion, although a near-30% increase took fuel costs to more than €5 billion. Other operating costs rose by 1.1% to €10.8 billion.

During the fourth quarter of 2011 the company posted an improved operating profit of €34 million, despite a heavy impact from fuel prices.

Traffic for the year rose by 7.2%, in line with the airlines' hike in capacity, meaning the average load factor stayed stable at 79.1%. Passenger yield increased by 3.6%.

IAG chief Willie Walsh said the consolidation had generated net synergies, in costs and revenues, of €74 million - some €64 million above the target - for the first year.

He said there were a "number of uncertainties" over the outlook for 2012. But demand from London "remains strong", said IAG, with "encouraging trends" over the North Atlantic network.

But it cautioned that the fuel cost increase could be as high as €1 billion, and the economic problems in Spain and other countries with the euro as their currency will be "a major factor" regarding underlying demand growth.