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British Airways owner to cut flights due to quarantine rules

IAG expects it will take until at least 2023 for passenger demand to recover to 2019 levels.

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British Airways planes

British Airways’ parent company IAG has announced it is cutting flights due to coronavirus travel restrictions and quarantine requirements.

Between October and December the group expects to operate 60% less capacity than during the same period last year, compared with a previously planned reduction of 46%.

The firm said it continues to expect it will take until at least 2023 for passenger demand to recover to 2019 levels.

It saw an “almost complete cessation of new booking activity” in April and May due to the pandemic, while the easing of country lockdowns sparked an increase in ticket sales in June.

Since July there has been an “overall levelling off of bookings”, IAG said.

A British Airways Boeing 747 aircraft parked with its engines removed at Cotswold Airport, which is the home of Air Salvage international who dismantle end-of-life aircraft (Ben Birchall/PA)
A BA Boeing 747 parked with its engines removed at Cotswold Airport, home of Air Salvage International which dismantles end-of-life aircraft (Ben Birchall/PA)

Demand for short-haul travel has “fallen slightly” following the UK and other European countries reimposing quarantine requirements for travellers returning from specific countries such as Spain.

On Tuesday, easyJet revealed it will have flown “slightly less” than the 40% of pre-coronavirus pandemic capacity it previously said it would operate between July and September following the Government’s decision to impose quarantine restrictions for seven Greek islands.

IAG said it will raise 2.7 billion euro (£2.5 billion) through selling new shares.

The equity raising was first announced in July.

IAG also announced that it has reached an agreement in principle with the Unite union over changes to the pay and conditions of British Airways cabin crew, with a ballot expected to start shortly.

It added that the airline is in the process of reducing headcount by “up to 13,000”, and said that, by the end of August, some 8,236 employees had left the business, “mostly as a result of voluntary redundancy”.

IAG shares were up 0.9% as markets opened in London on Thursday.

Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said: “It is not correct to suggest that negotiations between Unite and British Airways have concluded.

“Unite remains in negotiations with British Airways in a number of different bargaining units.

“Even in areas where draft agreements exist, these are still subject to approval from members through a ballot.

“Unless and until Unite members agree to all and any proposals, no settlement has been reached and it is unhelpful and misleading for British Airways to suggest otherwise.”

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