Virus-hit airline giant IAG narrows loss in first half

IAG, the parent company of a handful of airlines including British Airways, flew just 22 percent of the level of its pre-pandemic flights in the second quarter. AFP/Justin Tallis

LONDON - IAG, the owner of British Airways and Iberia, said that it narrowed its net loss in the first half, but continued to face fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

The London-listed conglomerate said in a statement that it suffered a loss after taxation of 2.0 billion euros in the six months to the end of June. 

That was almost half the group's net loss of 3.8 billion euros in the same period a year earlier, when the pandemic erupted and ravaged air travel.

Revenues remain severely depressed by the pandemic, down 60 percent at 2.2 billion euros.

The airline giant said it "continues to be adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic together with government restrictions and quarantine requirements". 

Passenger capacity in the second quarter was only 22 percent of its pre-pandemic level.

Looking ahead, the group plans to operate about 45 percent of its capacity in the key summer months between July and September, when compared with 2019.

IAG added that it remained ready to ramp up services once international travel curbs are fully lifted.

"In the short term, our focus is on ensuring our operational readiness, so we have the flexibility to capitalise on an environment where there's evidence of widespread pent-up demand when travel restrictions are lifted," said chief executive Luis Gallego.

"We know that recovery will be uneven, but we're ready to take advantage of a surge in air travel demand in line with increasing vaccination rates."

IAG was "ready to fly as much as 75 percent of its 2019 capacity" in the final three months of this year.


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