Friday 30 October 2020 8:38 am

British Airways owner IAG calls for airport testing as losses widen

British Airways owner International Airlines Group (IAG) fell to a €5.56bn loss in the first nine months of the year as it warned passenger demand could take three-years to recover to pre-pandemic levels.

The company this morning announced it had plunged to a loss after tax and exceptional items of more than €5bn this year so far, compared to profit of €1.8bn in 2019.

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IAG urged the government to ramp up testing at airports as it posted an operating loss of €1.3bn before exceptional items in the third quarter, falling from profit of €1.4bn last year. 

Exceptional items over the nine months amounted to €2.75bn on derecognition of fuel, foreign exchange hedges, impairment of fleet and restructuring costs. 

In the three months to the end of September, passenger capacity was down 78.6 per cent compared to last year. 

Luis Gallego, IAG chief executive, said, “These results demonstrate the negative impact of Covid-19 on our business but they’re exacerbated by constantly changing government restrictions. 

“This creates uncertainty for customers and makes it harder to plan our business effectively.

“We are calling on governments to adopt pre-departure testing using reliable and affordable tests with the option of post flight testing to release people from quarantine where they are arriving from countries with high infection rates.

“This would open routes, stimulate economies and get people travelling with confidence. When we open routes, there is pent up demand for travel. 

Read more: British Airways owner IAG nosedives into €1.3bn pandemic loss and cuts flights over winter

“However, we continue to expect that it will take until at least 2023 for passenger demand to recover to 2019 levels.

“The Group has made significant progress on restructuring and we continue to reduce our cost base and increase the proportion of our variable costs.”