British Airways owner IAG expects travel recovery from July

Alex Cruz

British Airways owner IAG is confident travel will recover from July onwards after forecasting only a minimal increase in its capacity to 25% for the April to June quarter.

IAG, which also owns Iberia and Vueling in Spain and Aer Lingus in Ireland, declined to forecast how much it would fly from July but said the recovery would be properly underway by then after more than a year of pandemic restrictions.

The rise to 25% of pre-pandemic capacity puts IAG’s plans behind those of rival airlines, and is only a marginal increase from the 19.6% it flew in the first three months of 2021.

Britain, which along with Spain is one of IAG’s main markets, is set to publish later on Friday its “green list” of low risk places where people can travel without needing to quarantine on their return.

“Part of the reason we’re not giving guidance (for third-quarter capacity) is simply because we don’t know what’s on the green list yet,” Chief Financial Officer Steve Gunning said.

Air France-KLM expects to operate 50% of its pre-pandemic flight capacity in the second quarter, picking up to 55% to 65% in July-September. Lufthansa expects to fly at about 40% of its pre-pandemic capacity for 2021 as a whole.

IAG’s first-quarter operating loss before exceptional items of 1.14 billion euros was slightly better than the 1.17 billion euro loss forecast by analysts.

Shares in the company, which have risen 30% since the beginning of the year, traded up 0.7%.

Given the ongoing uncertainty over COVID-19, IAG said it could not provide a profit outlook for 2021.

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