BA plane Image copyright Getty Images

British Airways’ owner IAG is cutting more flights over the next three months as it adjusts to the continuing collapse in demand for air travel.

IAG, which also runs Aer Lingus and Iberia, said quarantine restrictions meant capacity this autumn would be 60% below 2019 levels.

The group said it had seen a “delayed recovery”, and did not expect things to return to 2019 levels until 2023.

It is also raising €2.7bn (£2.5bn) from shareholders to help its finances.

The company said the money would be used to reduce debt and help it withstand a prolonged downturn in travel.

Previously IAG had forecast a 46% reduction in flights between October and December compared with the same period last year.

It said it had seen an “almost complete cessation of new booking activity” in April and May due to the pandemic, but the easing of country lockdowns boosted ticket sales in June.

However, since July there had been an “overall levelling off in bookings” as the UK and other European countries re-imposed quarantine requirements for travellers returning from countries such as Spain.

On Tuesday, easyJet revealed it will have flown “slightly less” than the 40% of pre-coronavirus pandemic capacity it previously said it would operate between July and September following the government’s decision to impose quarantine restrictions for seven Greek islands.

Job cuts

Airlines are among the firms hardest hit by the impact of the pandemic. British Airways plans to cut up to 13,000 jobs due to the crisis, while easyJet and Virgin Atlantic are slashing 4,500 roles each.

The International Air Transport Association expects global airline revenues to be 50% lower in 2020 than they were last year.

Under IAG’s fundraising shareholders will buy new shares at a deeply discounted price – 36% below the closing price on Wednesday.

The group’s largest shareholder, Qatar Airways, which has a 25.1% holding, has said it will buy its full entitlement.

Details of the rights issues, which was announced in July, comes two days after new chief executive Luis Gallego took over from long-time boss Willie Walsh.

IAG also announced that it has reached an agreement in principle with the Unite union over changes to the pay and conditions of BA cabin crew, with a ballot expected to start shortly.

It added that the airline had already begun laying off staff and that, by the end of August, some 8,236 employees had left the business, “mostly as a result of voluntary redundancy”.


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