British Airways owner International Airlines Group (IAG) has reported a 9.5 per cent increase in profits for 2018, but it predicts that 2019 numbers will be “broadly in line” with last year’s levels.

The group saw total revenue rise 6.7 per cent to more than €24 billion. Operating profits reached €3.2 billion.

CEO Willie Walsh said: “Yet again, we’ve improved our operating profit this year and our adjusted earnings per share grew by 15.1 per cent. This was a very good performance despite three significant challenges: fuel prices increasing 30 per cent, considerable Air Traffic Control disruption and an adverse foreign exchange impact of €129 million.”

Looking ahead, IAG says it expects its 2019 operating profit to be in line with the 2018 results, adding that “both passenger unit revenue and ex-fuel unit cost is expected to improve at constant currency”.

The group also reported a 6.1 per cent increase in capacity, with each of its five airlines seeing growth in every region except Asia Pacific. Capacity was boosted by new long-haul routes operated by BA, Iberia and Aer Lingus, as well as new short-haul destinations at Level, Iberia and Vueling.

IAG’s load factor “reached its highest level since the creation” of the group at 83.3 points.

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