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British Airways’ parent company lost £120 per second between January and March

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Going places; British Airways Boeing 787 (British Airways)
Going places; British Airways Boeing 787 (British Airways)

The parent company of British Airways lost £120 per second between January and March.

IAG, which also owns Aer Lingus, Iberia of Spain and Vueling, has announced a first-quarter operating loss of €1,068m (£931m).

The group flew only one-fifth of the seats it operated in the same three months during 2019, and says it plans capacity of just 25 per cent between April and June – as it “continues to be adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, together with government restrictions and quarantine requirements”.

Only 46 per cent of seats were filled, compared with 76 per cent two years ago.

After a funding round, IAG has cash of €8bn (£7bn), almost four times higher than at the start of the year.

The chief executive, Luis Gallego, said: “We’ve acted decisively to build resilience by boosting liquidity and reducing our cost base.

“We’re taking all necessary actions to ensure the financial health of our business for the long-term.

“We’re doing everything in our power to emerge in a stronger competitive position.”

Mr Gallego said he was “absolutely confident” that international travel can safely resume. “We’re ready to fly,” he said. But he demanded “travel corridors without restrictions between countries with successful vaccination rollouts and effective testing such us the UK and the US”.

British Airways previously made much of its revenue on transatlantic routes.

The IAG chief executive also called for “affordable, simple and proportionate testing” and “well-staffed borders using contactless technology including e-gates to ensure a safe, smooth flow of people and frictionless travel”.

Bosses at Heathrow have warned of six-hour queues for the UK Border.

“These measures will enable a safe re-opening of our skies,” Mr Gallego said.

“Travel underpins a global industry that supports 13 million jobs in Europe alone.

“There’s a high level of pent-up demand and aviation will play a critical role in reconnecting people and getting economies back up and running again.”

The results were published on the day that travellers in England are to learn of the government’s allocation of countries on the “traffic light” system to restart international tourism from 17 May.

Initially very few popular holiday destinations are expected to be included.

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