IAG's February traffic falls on strikes

LONDON Tue Mar 5, 2013 10:20am EST

A Southwest Airlines jet lands at the Lambert - St. Louis International Airport, in St. Louis, Missouri, March 4, 2013. REUTERS/Tom Gannam

A Southwest Airlines jet lands at the Lambert - St. Louis International Airport, in St. Louis, Missouri, March 4, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Tom Gannam

LONDON (Reuters) - International Airlines Group (ICAG.L) posted a 2.4 percent fall in February traffic, as strong growth at British Airways failed to make up for weakness at Spain's Iberia following a series of strikes.

Traffic, measured in revenue passenger kilometers, slid 2.4 percent versus February 2012, while passenger load factor - a measure of how well it fills its planes - was up 1.6 percentage points at 75.2 percent, it said on Tuesday.

IAG said its first and business-class travel - the most profitable part of its passenger business - rose 0.2 percent, while non-premium traffic fell 2.9 percent .

Showing the drag from Iberia, the update showed that British Airways' February traffic was up 5.3 percent compared to a 20.6 percent fall at Iberia.

IAG has seen worsening economic conditions in Spain hit its performance in recent months, undermining strength in long-haul travel out of London. In February, Iberia cabin crew and ground employees' unions went on strike for five consecutive days.

Thousands of workers facing pay and job cuts at loss-making Iberia staged a second wave of protests on Monday that could ground nearly 1,300 flights this week.

Shares in IAG, which have risen 29 percent in the last three months, were 2.69 percent up at 244.2 pence by 1508 GMT, valuing the group at around 4.4 billion pounds ($6.6 billion).

($1 = 0.6635 British pounds)

(Reporting by Brenda Goh and Rhys Jones, Editing by Kate Holton)

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