Airline conglomerate IAG announces huge losses in wake of pandemic – dpa international


DUBLIN — International Airlines Group (IAG), which counts British Airways and Iberia among its subsidiaries, on Friday announced a 55.7 per cent drop in revenue and losses of 3.8 billion euros (4.5 billion dollars) for the first half of 2020.

Total revenues across the IAG’s fleets, which also include Ireland’s flagship airline Aer Lingus and low-cost carrier Vueling, fell from 12.02 billion euros to just over 5.3 billion euros, IAG stated.

IAG attributed the losses to the novel coronavirus, which it described as having “a devastating impact on the global airline and travel sectors.”

After the World Health Organization in March declared the outbreak a pandemic, countries across Asia, Europe and North America tightened travel curbs that in some cases included border closures.

“As a result of government travel restrictions, quarter 2 passenger traffic fell by 98.4 per cent on a capacity reduction in the quarter of 95.3 per cent,” IAG said in its statement.

The World Tourism Organisation, a United Nations agency, said on Tuesday that global tourist arrivals dropped 56 per cent over the first five months of the year, with the worldwide loss of over 300 billion dollars in revenue.

IAG Chief Executive Officer Willie Walsh believes “it will take until at least 2023 for passenger demand to recover to 2019 levels.”

IAG’s Aer Lingus posted losses of 316 million euros (374 million dollars) and saw revenues drop by two-thirds to 368 million euros during the first six months of the year.

International air and sea arrivals to Ireland droppped by 66 per cent in the first half of the year compared to 2019, according to the country’s Central Statistics Office.

Ireland’s government has relaxed many of the restrictions imposed earlier in the year when daily coronavirus case numbers were in the hundreds, but arrivals from most countries are expected to self-isolate for 14 days – curbs that Irish airlines have criticized.

Aer Lingus chief executive Sean Doyle said during a parliamentary hearing in Dublin on Tuesday that tourism “is not recovering the way we would have hoped maybe five or six weeks ago.”

Ryanair’s Eddie Wilson told the same hearing that “shutting down connectivity will lead to stagnation and massive job losses in Ireland.”  Ryanair filed  case against the government’s travel rules at the High Court on Thursday.

Irish government statistics showed tourism generating 9.4 billion euros for the county’s economy in 2018.

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