Cargo sales at British Airways rose 39.4 per cent, to £350m in the first half while cargo volumes, measured in cargo tonne kilometres, were up 2.4 per cent.
The group said the strong performance had been driven by yields recovering from the market low point of last year, as well as strong premium product performance and higher fuel surcharges.
Volumes of 2,294 million cargo tonne kilometres (CTKs) for the half year represent an increase of 2.4 per cent versus the same period last year. Cargo capacity for the same six-month period was down 1.4 per cent.
Overall yield (commercial revenue per CTK) increased by 36.1 per cent on last year, driven by underlying price and product mix improvement. Excluding the impact of exchange rate movements, yield increased by 31.5 per cent.
Steve Gunning, managing director of BA World Cargo said: “The market recovery from 2009 has been sustained and we have been encouraged by the improvement in our revenue while holding on to the cost savings we achieved during the downturn.
“Although there is not the same level of inventory re-stocking as last year, we expect demand to grow during the peak season. As demonstrated through our long haul freighter programme where we have increased frequencies out of Hong Kong, we will look for opportunities to grow our business, but only in a rational and economically viable manner.”
British Airways’ total operating profit of £298 million compares to a loss of £111m last year. Group sales were up 8.4 per cent to £4.5bn.
Chief executive Willie Walsh, said: “Our concerted efforts to introduce permanent structural change across the airline has led to a reduction in non-fuel costs and a return to profitability. Revenue has increased, driven primarily by yield improvements and, while fuel costs have risen, they are in line with our expectations. Our focus on permanent structural change will continue.
“At a strategic level, we launched our transatlantic joint business with American Airlines and Iberia earlier this month, having received regulatory approval in the summer. Also, we expect to complete our merger with Iberia in January 2011. Regulatory information about the merger has been sent to shareholders in advance of shareholder meetings on November 29 to seek approval for the merger.”