Pandemic pushes BA-owner IAG to a 4.4 billion euro loss in 2020 By Reuters


© Reuters. British Airways aircraft are seen at Heathrow Airport in west London

LONDON (Reuters) – British Airways-owner IAG (LON:) posted a loss of 4.37 billion euros ($5.31 billion) for 2020 after a year of minimal flying and burning through cash, and it warned on Friday it could not say what would happen in 2021.

The worsening travel outlook and tighter restrictions brought in by countries over the last two months have threatened to ruin Europe’s critical summer season and leave some carriers in need of another round of funding support, analysts warn.

IAG said that the ongoing uncertainty and duration of COVID-19 meant that it could not provide a future profit forecast, illustrating the scale of the challenge for IAG’s new boss Luis Gallego, who is six months into the job.

The group’s focus continues to be on cutting costs to reduce cash burn to try to ride out the crisis.

IAG said on Friday it had total liquidity of 10.3 billion euros, and there were now signs there could be some relief on the way for its strained finances.

UK-focused airlines were buoyed earlier this week when Britain laid out plans for travel markets to possibly reopen from mid-May, prompting a flood of bookings, but uncertainty remains over whether it will include IAG’s long-haul routes.

“Getting people travelling again will require a clear roadmap for unwinding current restrictions when the time is right,” IAG’s Gallego said in a statement on Friday.

“We’re calling for international common testing standards and the introduction of digital health passes to reopen our skies safely.”

IAG’s 2020 operating loss before exceptional items was slightly better than a consensus forecast for a 4.45 billion euros loss, after it sunk to a 1.165 billion euro loss in the October-December quarter.

($1 = 0.8230 euros)

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