BA-Iberia group profits from more premium passengers

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Media captionInternational Airlines Group CEO Willie Walsh: "It's good to be back in the black"

International Airlines Group (IAG), formed by the merger of BA and Iberia, has swung to a first-half profit of 39m euros (£34m), boosted by a rise in premium travellers.

That compared with a 419m-euro loss made in the same period a year earlier.

But it said fuel costs had risen 34.8% to 2.4bn euros in the six-month period and said that fuel was still a "significant issue".

The company expects its annual fuel bill to total 5.2bn euros.

BA and Iberia completed their merger in January this year.

'Significant growth'

Revenues for the half-year rose 17.9% to 7.8bn euros.

The company also reduced its net debt by almost a half to 480m euros.

IAG said it had seen "continued strength in premium markets", adding that while its long-haul business was stable, the short-haul European market remained "highly competitive".

"We expect significant growth in operating profit this year, with improvements in both our unit revenue and unit cost performance versus 2010 and are on track to reach our synergy targets," IAG said.

But it said it expected the earthquake and tsunami in Japan and the political unrest in North Africa and the Middle East to reduce its operating profit for the year by 90-100m euros.

Charles Stanley analyst Douglas McNeill said: "These are good results at the upper end of expectations but the year-ago period was depressed by the ash cloud crisis and strikes at BA."

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