Investors from Qatar are being linked with a 12% stake in British Airways and Iberia parent company International Airlines Group.

The shareholding has been put up for sale by Spanish bank Bankia as part of a disposal of non-core assets.

Qatar has made an informal approach to IAG, the airlines group formed through the merger of BA and Iberia, about becoming its biggest shareholder, according to the Financial Times.

It is believed the approach was made several months ago although it is not known which of the Gulf state’s investment vehicles could be used to acquire the stake.

Bankia held a controlling stake in Iberia before the Spanish flag carrier was merged with BA in 2011.

IAG, which reports interim results tomorrow, declined to comment on the report.

Meanwhile IAG has reported that this year’s early Easter saw April traffic drop by 5.6%.

Leisure carryings fell by 6.9% due to the Easter weekend falling in March against April in 2012. However, premium traffic rose by 1.8%

IAG said: “Traffic and load factor were affected by Easter and a group policy to improve unit revenues through yield, rather than load.

“To look through the Easter effect, it is necessary to aggregate March and April. In doing so, load factor reduction was 0.6 points, premium traffic increased by 0.6% and non-premium traffic decreased by 3.2%.”

IAG, which confirmed the takeover of Spanish low cost carrier Vueling last month, said underlying market conditions remain unchanged from February’s announcement of fourth quarter results.