By Daniel Hunter

The owner of British Airways, International Airlines Group (IAG), has reported a big increase in annual profits.

The airline group reported pre-tax profits of €828m (£601m) and operating profits nearly doubled to €1bn. The growth came as a result of more efficient aircraft and falling oil prices, it said.

The positive results for 2014 led IAG to raise its forecast for 2015 by 20%. It also owns Spanish airlines Iberia and Vueling.

IAG is currently in the middle of takeover bid for Irish airline Aer Lingus for €1.36bn. The airline which is also part owned by Ryanair and the Irish government would provide more runway slots at Heathrow airport, believed to be a key attraction for IAG.

The Irish government is understood to be stalling on the deal, with concerns over job losses.

IAG chief executive Willie Walsh, told the BBC: "We'll have discussions in due course with the Irish government.

"I'm very much focused on the fantastic results that we've announced today and looking forward to developing IAG with the existing airlines and with opportunities to expand with other airlines."