Spanish airport operator Aena turned profitable in the first half of this year after pandemic-related travel restrictions plunged it into the red for two years.

The company booked a net profit of 164 million euros ($166 million) in the period compared with a net loss of 364 million euros in the same period a year ago, on revenue that doubled to 1.69 billion euros.

Aena reiterated it expects traffic at its airports to rise by 75% and 85% of 2019 levels, although it said airlines had reduced its summer capacity to 200 million passengers down from a previously announced 216 million.

Most airlines are dogged by labour strife this summer as the steep tourism recovery found them with staff shortages and soaring inflation encouraged cabin crews and pilots to demand higher wages and better working conditions.

Ryanair, the airline that carried the most passengers with a 22.3% of the market share during the period, had to deal with cabin crew strikes during several days in July.

The number of passengers moving through Spain's airports in the first six months increased to 104.9 million people, 82% of passenger traffic in the first half of 2019.

Aena said that even though its revenues soared thanks to rising aircraft traffic, its expenses rose 40% during the half year to 1 billion euros, largely due to higher electricity bills.

Aena's revenue from duty free shop rents fell 67.4% in the first half of the year compared with 2021, due to a regulation imposed last year forcing it to keep rents for retail tenants down so long as traffic has not fully recovery from the pandemic.

($1 = 0.9857 euros) (Reporting by Inti Landauro and Corina Pons Editing by Mark Potter and Louise Heavens)