British Airways said it made progress to becoming a "more robust airline" after unveiling half-year profits of £335 million.

The figure for the six months to September 30 compared with £60 million last year and included profits of £220 million over the final three months.

Cost-cutting measures and an improvement in passenger numbers helped the performance, although fuel costs were 12 per cent higher than last year.

Chief executive Rod Eddington said the company's net debt figure of £3.3 billion was now the lowest it has been since 1993.

He added: "We are making steady progress in building a more robust airline. Rising fuel costs, however, are expected to continue and remain a challenge along with employee costs."

Turnover lifted 2.2 per cent in the second quarter to £2.03 billion but more expensive fuel meant operating expenditure was in line with last year.

BA said employee costs rose by 7.7 per cent as wage awards and increased pension contributions more than offset savings from 13,000 job cuts at the airline.