British Airways owner International Airlines Group plunged almost €6 billion into the red in the first nine months of the year as Covid-19 hammered international travel.

The operating loss after exceptional items compared to a profit of €2.5 billion in the same period last year.

IAG said: “The results for the nine months were significantly impacted by the outbreak of Covid-19, which has had a material impact on the global airline and travel sectors, particularly from late February 2020 onwards and with no immediate signs of recovery.”

Losses for the third quarter to September 30 totalled €1.3 billion compared to a profit of €1.4 billion in the same summer three months in 2019.

“Demand continues to be adversely affected by volatile government restrictions and quarantine requirements,” IAG said.

Luis Gallego, chief executive of the group which also includes Aer Lingus, Iberia and Vueling, 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.

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

As previously reported, the airline group now plans for capacity in the final three months of the year to be no more than 30% compared to 2019 “in response to the high uncertainty of the current environment”.

The company warned: “As a result, the group no longer expects to reach breakeven in terms of Net cash flows from operating activities during quarter 4.”

Agreements were reached in the period with most employee groups at BA for 10,000 job cuts, according to IAG.

The group raised €2.7 billion in a rights issue and a payment of €830 million in a renewal of a deal with American Express, a large proportion of which involved Avios pre-purchase.

Gallego said: “The group has made significant progress on restructuring and we continue to reduce our cost base and increase the proportion of our variable costs.

“We have also successfully completed a €2.74 billion capital increase in the quarter.

“It strengthens our financial and strategic position and makes IAG better placed to take advantage of a recovery in air travel demand.”

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