International Consolidated Airlines Group, the parent
company of British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus, Level and Vueling, forecasts
that it will return to profitability from the second quarter on for this year,
despite the Covid-19 omicron variant having a negative short-term effect on the
second half of the fourth quarter of 2021 and on the first quarter of 2022, according
to the company’s earnings results released Friday.
IAG reported a fourth-quarter loss of €278 million, and a
full-year 2021 loss of €2.8 billion, versus a €7.5 billion loss in 2020. Quarterly
passenger revenue was €2.7 billion. Full-year passenger revenue was €5.8
billion, up 5.9 percent from 2020.
“Business travel has started to recover, especially on
the transatlantic routes,” IAG CEO Luis Gallego said in a statement.
“Prior to omicron, long-haul traffic had seen the highest booking activity
in October and November at over 80 percent of 2019 levels.”
IAG passenger capacity for the quarter was 58 percent of
2019 capacity, up from 43 percent in the third quarter. Full-year 2021 capacity
was 36 percent of 2019 levels. Current passenger capacity plans for 2022 are 65
percent for the first quarter and 85 percent by year-end compared with 2019
levels. The company anticipates delivery of 25 new aircraft in 2022.
Looked at by carrier, Vueling led capacity for the fourth
quarter at 79 percent of Q4 2019 levels, followed by Iberia at 75 percent.
British Airways ended the fourth quarter at 53 percent of 2019 capacity, while
Aer Lingus was at 44 percent and Level was at 11 percent.
The company’s North American capacity was “severely
limited” by the U.S. government’s Covid-19 travel restrictions, which were
lifted for European Union and United Kingdom citizens on Nov. 8, 2021. Prior to
that easing, flights operated mostly for cargo purposes. Passenger load factor
for the region was down 34.7 points versus 2019 to 49.4 percent, reflecting the
U.S. government restrictions for most of the year.
Q3 2021 earnings