Led by Irishman and former Aer Lingus chief executive, Willie Walsh, International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG) is the parent of British Airways (BA) and Spanish carriers Iberia and Vueling.
It also has a cargo business and in 2012 bought part of the old British Midland International airline. The group is registered in Spain, has its headquarters in London, and its shares are traded on the London and Madrid stock exchanges.
According to its website, it has 464 aircraft and flies 77 million passengers to 243 destinations a-year. Based on sales, which were €17.8 billion in 2014, the group says it is Europe’s third biggest airline and is number six in the world.
IAG had close to €5 billion in cash at the end of December. Last year its businesses generated €1.4 billion in profits, close to twice the €770 million that they earned in 2013.
Unlike Aer Lingus, whose two largest shareholders own more than half its stock, IAG has a large number of institutional backers, which is more usual for a large listed company.
Qatar Airways bought 9.99 per cent of IAG in January. Its next biggest shareholder is Standard Life Investments, which has slightly more than 6 per cent of the group. US institution Europacific Growth fund is third with 5.26 per cent, while another US backer, Capital Research and Management, comes fourth with 5.05 per cent.
All of its subsidiaries operate in Ireland. BA flies from Belfast, Cork, Dublin and Shannon to destinations in Britain, including London Heathrow. Iberia offers direct flights from Dublin to Madrid. Vueling recently launched services from Belfast and Dublin to its home airport Barcelona El Prat.
Vueling was set up in 2004, and is the youngest of the three IAG subsidiaries. The other two are long-established former state-owned flag carriers.