Pandemic pushes British Airways owner to record loss

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The owner of flag carrier British Airways IAG announced a record loss, due to pandemic related slowdown, Reuters reported. Total annual loss for 2020 accounted to €7.43bn.

IAG noted that uncertainty over the duration of the pandemic meant it could not give a profit forecast, illustrating the scale of the challenge for IAG’s new boss Luis Gallego, who is six months into the job. “We’re calling for international common testing standards and the introduction of digital health passes to reopen our skies safely,” he said.

IAG continues to focus on cutting costs to ease the weight of negative results. “Getting people travelling again will require a clear roadmap for unwinding current restrictions when the time is right,” Gallego said in a statement.

IAG’s operating loss before exceptional items, its preferred measure, came in at 4.37 billion euros, better than analysts’ consensus forecast for a 4.45 billion loss. For January-March, IAG said it expected to fly about 20% of 2019’s capacity, down from the previous quarter’s 27%. The group, which also owns Aer Lingus, Iberia and Vueling, has been trying to boost its finances as the crisis drags on. Most recently, BA secured an extra 2.45 billion pounds through a UK government-backed loan and from deferring pension contributions. Last October, IAG secured shareholder backing for a 2.74 billion euro capital hike, adding to savings made from over 13,000 planned job cuts.

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