IAG targets “meaningful return” of flights in July
The International Airlines Group [IAG] is aiming for a “meaningful return” of flights by July at the earliest, should lockdown measures begin to ease in the coming weeks.
The group, which owns British Airways, Aer Lingus and Iberia, said that it did not expect passenger demand to return to pre-pandemic levels until 2023.
The sharp drop in demand will see British Airways axe around 12,000 jobs as it restructures to see out the crisis.
IAG chief executive Willie Walsh 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."
Walsh had been due to retire in March but will now remain in post until September to spearhead IAG’s “immediate response to the crisis”.
IAG's plans are subject to travel restrictions, but should flights be able to resume in the summer as planned, the group has said that passenger capacity is likely to be reduced by half. Most of its fleet is currently grounded, seeing its capacity drop by 94 per cent since March.
The group has borrowed £300 million through the UK coronavirus corporate finance facility provided by the Bank of England, on a short-term basis.
The loan came after IAG reported post-tax losses of £1.47 billion during the first quarter of the year. Its operating losses for the first three months of 2020 came in at £466.6 million, down from a profit of £117.8 million in 2019.
IAG expects the second quarter to be “significantly worse” and is expected to make swathes of its workforce redundant and defer deliveries of 68 aircraft to bolster its cash reserves.
With various airlines struggling amid the crisis, other aviation bosses have this week called for additional support for the aviation industry from the UK government.
Addressing the Transport Select Committee, Heathrow Airport chief executive John Holland-Kaye suggested that the UK could look to support the aviation sector in the same way as the French, German and US governments, who have paid out substantial rescue packages.
Air France KLM has received a loan of €7 billion from the French government to help steer the business through the pandemic, after it posted losses of €815 million in its day-to-day business over the first quarter.