domingo, junio 16, 2024

British Airways owner IAG says recovery will not be before 2023

BA planes Image copyright EPA

British Airways owner IAG has said it will take until at least 2023 for passenger levels to recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

IAG, which also owns Aer Lingus, posted a loss of €4.2bn (£3.8bn) in the first half of the year as demand collapsed.

Passenger numbers fell 98% in the April-to-June period, and the group has said it is planning to cut jobs.

IAG said it planned to raise €2.75bn, and had support for this from its main shareholder, Qatar Airways.

However, its shares fell 6% to 170p in early trading on Friday.

BA employs about 45,000 staff and has more than half of these on furlough. It is planning to cut up to 12,000 jobs and is facing the threat of strike action by staff whose jobs are under threat.

Chief executive Willie Walsh said: «The industry will recover from this crisis, though we do not expect this to be before 2023, and there will be opportunities for IAG to capitalise on its strength and leadership positions.»

He added that business had begun to pick up as guidance on travel abroad was loosened: «We have seen evidence that demand recovers when government restrictions are lifted.»

But he said the industry would never be the same again: «Anyone who believes that this is just a temporary downturn and therefore can be fixed with temporary measures, I’m afraid seriously misjudges what the industry is going through.

«This will represent a structurally changed industry and that’s why we’ve taken the action that we’ve taken and that’s why we believe now the the right time to raise additional capital.»

Mr Walsh said customers with pre-existing bookings were continuing to fly to and from Spain, despite the government’s change to guidance advising against non-essential travel to the country and the re-imposition of quarantine for people returning.

Some IAG airline passengers are still chasing refunds for cancelled flights.

Mr Walsh apologised to those who are still waiting for payments. He told the BBC’s Today programme that most people should not have to wait more than 14 days for their money.