International Airlines Group (IAG), the merged British Airways and Iberia, has recorded an increase in pre-tax profits for the first half of the year. The group said its figures had increased to EUR39 million and that revenue had improved 17.9% to EUR7.77 billion. Its passenger unit revenue was also up 7.5% with traffic up 15.7%. The positive results follow announcements from other airlines such as Lufthansa this week, which showed that fuel prices have continued to hit operating profits. At IAG, fuel costs surged 34.8% to EUR2.4bn. “While last year’s figures for this quarter were affected by disruption, the underlying trends remain positive,” said Willie Walsh, chief executive at IAG. “Our focus on cost control remains with non-fuel unit costs down 5.8% in the quarter but fuel is still a significant issue.” Walsh said that long-haul business had remained stable particularly in premium class but the short-haul European market was ‘highly competitive’. The earthquake in Japan and unrest in the MENA is said to have cost the group between EUR90 and 100 million. Walsh added that it was considering a reduction in capacity growth this winter and any route expansion would be implemented with no extra staff or fleet. He is expecting ‘significant growth’ in operating profit this year.