British Airways’ parent company IAG says its airlines are planning for a “meaningful” return to services in July at the earliest.
The company, which also owns Iberia, Aer Lingus and Vueling, said passenger capacity was reduced by 94% from late March as Covid-19 spread around the world and most of its aircraft were grounded.
IAG said it hoped to operate about 50% of its pre-crisis passenger capacity during the rest of 2020 but added these plans “are highly uncertain and subject to the easing of lockdowns and travel restrictions”.
The group added it did not expect to return to 2019 passenger numbers until 2023, which made “further group-wide restructuring measures essential” – BA has already announced up to 12,000 potential redundancies while IAG also plans to defer the delivery of 68 new aircraft.
Willie Walsh, IAG’s chief executive, said: “We are planning for a meaningful return to service in July 2020 at the earliest, depending on the easing of lockdowns and travel restrictions around the world.
“We will adapt our operating procedures to ensure our customers and our people are properly protected in this new environment.
“We are working with the various regulatory bodies and are confident that changes in regulations will enable a safe and organised return to service.
“The industry will adapt to new requirements in the same way that it has adapted to developments in security requirements in the past.”
The spread of the coronavirus from late February onwards caused IAG to slump to a first quarter operating loss of €535 million compared with an operating profit of €135 million during the same period in 2019.
This quarterly loss ballooned to €1.86 billion when “exceptional” costs – IAG’s losses on fuel and foreign currency hedges - are included.
IAG warned that its results for the April-to-June quarter “will be significantly worse than the first quarter” as the majority of its airlines’ fleets were grounded due to the lockdowns around the world. The company is currently only operating limited passenger, repatriation and cargo-only flights.
Walsh, who will step down from his role at IAG in September, stressed the company’s strong financial position before the pandemic.
“We are taking all appropriate actions to preserve cash, reduce and defer both capital spending and operating costs and secure additional financing in order to strengthen and maintain our liquidity,” he added. “At the end of April our liquidity stood at €10 billion.”