By Neil Lancefield and August Graham, PA
Aer Lingus owner IAG has returned to profit as the airline industry continues to rebound from Covid-19.
The company, which also owns British Airways, Iberia and Vueling, said it made an operating profit before exceptional items of €1.26 billion in 2022, a swing from a €2.97 billion loss the year before.
This year, the business expects to make between €1.8 billion and €2.3 billion.
Revenue also soared in 2022, from €8.45 billion in 2021 to €23.07 billion.
Aer Lingus itself recorded an operating profit before exceptional items of €45 million for the full year. This compares to a pre-pandemic 2019 operating profit of €276 million.
The Dublin-based airline said it ramped up its operations significantly in preparation for the summer peak last year and continued to rebuild its network, reaching 2019 capacity levels in the final three months of 2022.
Losses of €95 million in the first half of the year were offset by €139 million operating profit before exceptional items in quarter three and followed by €1 million operating profit before exceptional items in quarter four.
IAG announced on Thursday night it has agreed to buy the remaining 80 per cent of shares it does not own in Spain’s third-largest airline Air Europa for €400 million.
Chief executive Luis Gallego said 2022 was “a year of strong recovery, driven by sustained leisure demand and markets reopening”.
He added: “At this point of the year we continue to see robust forward-bookings, while also remaining conscious of global macro-economic uncertainties.
“We are transforming our businesses, with the intention of returning IAG to pre-Covid levels of profit within the next few years, through major initiatives to improve customer experience and operational performance.
“Our unique group structure allows us to maximise revenue and cost synergies, and invest capital to achieve strong returns, whilst continuing progress towards net zero by 2050.”
Mr Gallego went on: “With the acquisition of Air Europa now agreed but subject to regulatory and other approvals which could take around 18 months, we are intending to welcome another leading airline to the group.
“This acquisition will enable us to grow Madrid as a hub, offering a gateway to Latin America and beyond, with benefits for customers, employees and shareholders.
“I would like to thank the teams across IAG for their exceptionally hard work in addressing the challenges of ramping up the operation throughout the year.”