British Airways and Iberia owner IAG reports Q1 losses of $1.3bn
Rahul Pathak in Madrid


IAG, one of world's largest airline groups has reported losses of just over $1.3 billion for the first three months of 2021.

IAG which own British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus and Vueling, still has most of its fleet grounded as a result of COVID-19 travel restrictions, but with some countries preparing to reopen their borders, better times could lie ahead.

Huge losses, but still better than 2020

The company reported on Friday that it had a net loss of $1.3 billion for the first quarter of 2021, compared with a $2 billion loss this time last year.

Passenger numbers remain at record low levels – just 19.6 percent of the pre-COVID-19 levels in 2019.

CGTN Europe spoke with Nani Arenas, a tourism and communication expert based in Spain, and she said the results were not unexpected. 

"To be honest it's not a big surprise. While you still have these big restrictions on travel imposed by the governments, evidently this sector can't return to normal," she explained. 

"These strategic decisions are very important. Realistically, the travellers also need to have confidence to return for this to work, so evidently it can't return to normal. Right now, the airline industry is practically dead." 

Last year, IAG was forced to ground most of its planes as the coronavirus took off around the world. Now, while today's results show a slight improvement, the ongoing uncertainty over the lifting of travel restrictions means the company says it only expects to fly 25 percent of its 2019 capacity for the rest of 2021.


IAG has cut 10,000 jobs at British Airways because of COVID-19. /AFP/ Ben Stansall

IAG has cut 10,000 jobs at British Airways because of COVID-19. /AFP/ Ben Stansall


More government help needed

With summer season fast approaching, much depends on when countries decide to ease COVID-19 travel rules.

IAG is calling on governments to be more ambitious in getting global travel back on track.

Arenas added that governments around the world need to work together more closely: "The most important thing is urgent collective political and strategic decisions. 

"Above all, the travelers themselves need to have the confidence to return, thanks to things like safe travel corridors between different countries. We need to lose things like quarantine restrictions, so that people can move between different continents."

With the coronavirus situation in countries like India, traveler confidence is sure to be affected in the short term.

IAG and the airline industry as a whole may have to hold on tight through the continued turbulence and hope government policy will allow it to navigate out of the current crisis.

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