British Airways parent group IAG said Friday that it slashed losses in the first quarter of the year, helped by "strong" demand from holidaymakers as the Covid recovery continued.

Net losses totalled 87 million euros ($96 million) in the first three months of 2023, down sharply from 787 million euros a year earlier, the aviation conglomerate said in a results statement.

IAG, which also owns Spanish airlines Iberia and Vueling, also returned to operating profit for the first time since before Covid ravaged international air travel.

The group added it was experiencing "ongoing strong customer demand across all our airlines" with "encouraging" summer bookings.

Operating profit before exceptional items hit 9.0 billion euros in the quarter, which contrasted with a loss of 718 million last time around. That was the first time in the black for the period since 2019.

Revenues meanwhile surged 71 percent to 5.9 billion euros as more travellers flocked back to its airlines, which also include Ireland's Aer Lingus.

"IAG has delivered a strong first-quarter financial performance, as group airlines recovered capacity to close to pre-pandemic levels," said chief executive Luis Gallego.

"Iberia contributed a record first-quarter profit and all our airlines performed above expectations, benefiting from robust demand and a lower fuel price in the quarter."

Turning to the outlook, IAG forecast that annual operating profit would be "higher than the top end" of its previous forecast of 1.8 billion euros to 2.3 billion euros.

"We are seeing healthy forward bookings with leisure demand particularly strong while business travel continues to recover more slowly," Gallego added.

The first three months of the year are usually the least profitable for airlines before the all-important summer season.

In Paris on Friday, Air France-KLM also posted a smaller loss in the first quarter of 2023 compared with last year's figure as revenues and passenger numbers also climbed sharply.