British Airways to fly just 30% of flight capacity as IAG bookings take plunge

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British Airways’ owner IAG revealed that the reduction is due to the latest quarantine measures and a lack of airport testing, which travel chiefs have been pushing for months. IAG’s other airlines Aer Lingus and Iberia will also be flying at no more than 30 percent of their capacity. The group expects its flight capacity from October to December to be no more than 30 percent of what it was over the same period in 2019.

The company was expecting to operate at around 60 percent of last year’s capacity.

However, IAG said they had nor received enough bookings.

IAG said the reduction is due to recent bookings being lower than expected due to “additional measures implemented by many European governments in response to a second wave of COVID-19 infections”.

These include an increase in local lockdowns and the extension of quarantine requirements for travellers visiting certain countries.

Meanwhile, initiatives to reduce quarantine periods and boost customer confidence to book and travel – such as pre-departure testing and air corridors – have “not been adopted by governments as quickly as anticipated”, IAG said.

As a result, the group “no longer expects to reach breakeven in terms of net cash flows from operating activities” between October and December.

It comes as IAG reported a €1.3 billion (£1.2 billion) loss over the past three months.

Announcing its preliminary financial results for July to September, total revenue declined by 83 percent year on year to €1.2 billion (£1.1 billion).

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The loss before exceptional items of €1.3 billion (£1.2 billion) between July and September is compared with a €1.4 billion (£1.3 billion) profit during the same period last year.

Flight capacity was down 78.6 percent over the quarter, with passenger demand decreasing by 88 percent.

The average number of seats filled on flights was 48.9 percent, down 38.8 percentage points.

IAG’s chief financial officer Stephen Gunning said: “Recent overall bookings have not developed as previously expected due to additional measures implemented by many European governments in response to a second wave of COVID-19 infections, including an increase in local lockdowns and extension of quarantine requirements to travellers from an increasing number of countries.”

British Airways’ replaced its CEO last week with Sean Doyle.

Last week, the new CEO called for the urgent introduction of pre-departure testing to get people flying again at a keynote address at Airlines 2050: Beyond the Crisis.

He told the industry that risk to public health from flying is low.

He said: “The safety of our customers and crew is always our priority, and we are taking every safety measure to keep our customers safe.

“This is a multi-faceted approach and includes minimising contact, sanitising our aircraft from nose to tail and asking customers and crew to wear face masks at all times, unless they have a medical exemption. 

“In the cabin, air is completely replaced every two to three minutes, passing through HEPA filters which remove microscopic bacteria and virus clusters with over a 99.9 percent efficiency, equivalent to hospital operating theatre standards.” 

He added: “We believe the best way to reassure people is to introduce a reliable and affordable test before flying.

“For the UK this approach reduces the stress on NHS testing systems within the UK and on policing the quarantine system.”

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