London - IAG, the parent of British Airways, said Friday it returned to first-half profit as the aviation sector recovers from the Covid pandemic despite inflation lifting company costs and ticket prices. Profit after tax was 921 million euros ($1 billion) in the first six months as passenger demand rallied at IAG, owner also of Spanish carrier Iberia and Ireland’s Aer Lingus among others. IAG had posted a net loss totalling 654 million euros one year earlier, it added in a statement. “Our strong profits since the start of the year are helping to fund investment for our customers, and to improve our balance sheet by reducing debt,” said group chief executive Luis Gallego. “We are aiming to be back to pre-pandemic capacity at the end of this year,” he added. Group revenue surged 45 percent to 13.6 billion euros in the first half. “Customer demand remains strong across the group, particularly for leisure travel, with around 80 percent of passenger revenue for the third quarter already booked,” Gallego added in the statement.