The owner of Aer Lingus, British Airways and Iberia, International Airlines Group (IAG) said he is seeing a “significant recovery” as passengers return to flying again with lockdown restrictions easing.
Chief executive Luis Gallego explained long-haul flights in particular have pushed up sales, adding that he expects the group to return to profitability by next year.
However, sales remain well below pre-pandemic levels.
IAG said in the three months to the end of September, passenger capacity was 43.4 per cent of 2019 levels, although this was up from 21.9 per cent in the three months to the end of June.
For the final three months of the year, passenger capacity is expected to be around 60 per cent of 2019 levels, the group added.
Mr Gallego said: “There’s a significant recovery under way and our teams across the group are working hard to capture every opportunity.
“We continue to capitalise on surges in bookings when travel restrictions are lifted.
“All our airlines have shown improvements with the group’s operating loss more than halved compared to previous quarters.”
Operating losses in the nine months to the end of September were €2.5 billion, compared with €6 billion in the same period a year ago.
Pre-tax losses in the three months to the end of September were €714 million, compared with €2 billion a year earlier.
Passenger revenue also improved in the quarter, hitting €2 billion, up from just €715 million euros during the same period in 2020 at the height of the pandemic.
IAG’s Iberia and Vueling airlines performed particularly strongly, with the former returning to profitability as both took opportunities to strengthen their positions on routes to Latin America and the Spanish domestic market.
Mr Gallego also appeared to flag that a new budget airline operating out of Gatwick Airport in England remained very much in his thoughts, after suggestions it could be scrapped.
He said: “Our teams are creating opportunities and implementing initiatives to transform our business and preparing it for the future so that we emerge more competitive.
“This includes initiatives such as our new short-haul operation at Gatwick, Vueling’s expansion at Paris-Orly, Aer Lingus’ services from Manchester to the US and the Caribbean and our new maintenance model in Barcelona.”