British Airways-owner IAG has reported a quarterly profit, swinging into the black from a seasonal loss for the first time, helped by lower fuel costs and an improvement in performance across its three airlines. 

The airline group is in the process of trying to buy Aer Lingus to expand its stable of carriers. It also owns Iberia and Vueling.

IAG today posted an underlying operating profit of €25m for the three months ended March 31. 

That compared to the loss of €150m it made last year and analyst consensus forecasts for a loss of €3m. 

European airlines tend to run at a loss in the winter first quarter of the year when fewer customers fly, and earlier IAG's rival Air France-KLM reported an operating loss of €417m. 

Aer Lingus yesterday also reported an operating loss of €48.4m for the first quarter of this year.
              
IAG said today it was maintaining its forecast for operating profit of €2.2 billion in 2015, which it upgraded in February on the back of Iberia's return to growth and cost control across the company. 

The airline said that the rate of profit improvement would slow in the second quarter due to the timing of Easter and an adverse fuel price comparison with the same period last year. 

In the first three months of the year, fuel costs were down 11% on a constant currency basis, IAG said, helped by more efficient aircraft. 

IAG did not provide an update on its plan to acquire Aer Lingus, a process which is currently stalled pending a decision by the Government on whether to sell its 25% stake in the airline, a condition of the deal. 

"It's not a distraction for us so from that point of view we're not under any pressure, nor are we intending to put any pressure on anybody involved in the process," the airline's CEO Willie Walsh said.