International airlines have reported significant profits this year, boosted by strong demand for leisure travel – and events, such as the World Cup, which gave Qatar Airways an enormous lift.
On Thursday, International Airlines Group, which includes Aer Lingus and British Airways, announced a record profit of about $1.4 billion for the first half of the year. IAG’s CEO Luis Gallego said in a statement that the group is setting its sights on returning to pre-pandemic capacity by the end of the year.
“Customer demand remains strong across the Group, particularly for leisure travel, with around 80% of passenger revenue for the third quarter already booked. And our airlines have put in place plans to support operations during the busy summer period,” he added.
Meanwhile, AirFrance-KLM Group reported revenue of over $8 billion for the second quarter, up almost a billion dollars from last year “in spite of the inflationary context.”
“I am very glad to see that the situation at airports is much better, including at KLM’s hub at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport,” CEO Benjamin Smith said in a statement. “This season notably serves as a test run for 2024, when France will host the Olympic and Paralympic Games, of which Air France is an official partner.”
If Qatar Airways’ recent performance is any indication, the 2024 Games will benefit AirFrance-KLM.
Qatar Airways reported a $1.2 billion profit for the past fiscal year, ascribing its strong performance to December’s FIFA World Cup.
Ahead of the controversial competition, questions also swirled around whether the tiny country with a population of just three million had the infrastructure to host an international tournament. But after winning its bid, Qatar invested some $220 billion into developing new transit systems and housing developments to accommodate an international audience. The venture was a success, with first-round tournament ticket sales surpassing 3 million, according to FIFA.
In its report, Qatar Airways said that, throughout the 2022 World Cup, the company operated around 140,000 flights to bring more than 1.4 million people to Qatar.
“Profitability has been driven by a 100% increase in passenger revenues in the last year,” the Group’s chief executive Akbar Al Baker said in a statement. “We maintained our position as the airline of choice for millions of passengers worldwide and our team carried 31.7 million passengers, which is an increase of 71 percent over last year.”
But some travel industry leaders say this staggering growth may not last. Earlier this week Ryanair, Europe’s largest airline by passenger numbers, warned that steep inflation and climbing interest rates could put a damper on air travel this fall and winter.
Even as Ryanair reported a profit of $735 million for the second quarter, CEO Michael O’Leary said in a video posted on the company’s website that the company is “concerned about the impact of these macroeconomic trends.”
He added that the airline might need to reduce ticket prices to meet its ambitious passenger growth targets. But major airlines don’t seem to have a problem filling seats at the moment, with IAG reporting about 84% of its available seats were filled and AirFrance-KLM reporting 87%.
– CNN’s Mostafa Salem and Pierre Meilhan contributed to this report.