nternational Airlines Group, the parent company of carriers British Airways, Aer Lingus and Iberia has posted another hefty first quarter loss of £624 million (€731 million) to add to its crushing €1bn coronavirus led shortfall for the same period last year.
However, the company said that demand for flights was “recovering strongly” in line with “expectations” and that the business expected to return to profitability from the second quarter onwards and for the full year due to pandemic restrictions being lifted across the globe.
IAG said that it expect to achieve 80% of 2019 passenger capacity in the second quarter and 85% in the third quarter.
Luis Gallego, IAG CEO, said that the travel industry was facing challenges, but he welcomed “the removal of UK’s stringent travel restrictions.”
He added: “Premium leisure continues to be the strongest performing segment and business travel is at its highest level since the start of the pandemic.”
He said that a “strong pent-up demand” had “contributed to a steep ramp up in capacity”.
The airline group has been forced to cancel flights due to staff sickness brought on from exposure to coronavirus and is now expected to cut schedules until the end of June – a month longer than previously expected.
Staff recruitment has also increasingly become a factor with the airline’s UK boss Sean Doyle stating that ground crew roles such as baggage handling have become increasingly hard to fill and major airports including London Heathrow reporting thousands of job vacancies.
However, Gallego said that capacity on the company’s key routes across the North Atlantic would be “close to fully restored” between July and September.