THE owner of British Airways is to axe 4,500 jobs as it battles to save its loss-making Spanish airline Iberia.
International Airlines Group (IAG), which was formed when BA merged with the Madrid-based carrier in 2011, will cut Iberia’s capacity by 15% and downsize its fleet by 25 aircraft as it attempts to turn around an operation which made losses of 262 million euro (£210m) in the first nine months of this year.
Iberia’s troubles and the impact of Superstorm Sandy, which grounded flights in and out of the US east coast last month, mean IAG expects an operating loss of about 120 million euro (£96m) this year.
BA, which achieved profits of 286 million euro (£228m) over the first nine months of this year, saw revenue growth for the last quarter held back as the London Olympics reduced demand for business travel.
However, there are signs of a recovery in the current quarter, although the airline group continues to face rising fuel costs, with the bill showing a 21% year-on-year increase in the three months to September 30.
Group chief executive Willie Walsh said the full integration of its rival bmi, which was bought by IAG for £172m in April from German carrier Lufthansa, had been achieved smoothly and efficiently.
IAG, which made an operating profit of 270 million euro (£216m) in its busy third quarter trading period, became Europe’s third biggest airline group in January 2011 following the merger of BA and Iberia.
The group’s Spanish airline has been hit by the European economic crisis, but its chief executive Rafael Sanchez-Lozano said the problems were “systemic and pre-date the country’s difficulties“.