Tighter quarantine requirements due to mutant viruses is delaying the recovery in international travel, analysts say.
The parent company of British Airways and Iberia on Friday said it lost 6.9 billion euros ($8.3bn) last year as the coronavirus pandemic caused a near-total collapse in international air traffic, and called for digital health certificates for vaccinated passengers to help revive travel.
IAG’s after-tax loss compared with a profit of 1.7 billion euros ($2bn) the year before. Its revenue slumped 70 percent to 7.8 billion euros ($9.4bn).
“Our results reflect the serious impact that COVID-19 has had on our business,” said CEO Luis Gallego.
The outlook is so uncertain that the company did not provide any targets or estimates for 2021. At the start of this year, business remained precarious as many countries extended or introduced new lockdown measures on travel and business.
Passenger capacity at IAG’s airlines in 2020 was just 33 percent of what it was the previous year. In the current quarter, it is estimated at just 20 percent of what it was in the same period of 2019.
The company backed calls for digital health certificates to be issued to people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 as a way to help get passengers back on planes in a safe way.
“We know there is pent-up demand for travel and people want to fly,” said Gallego in a statement. “Vaccinations are progressing well and global infections are going in the right direction. We’re calling for international common testing standards and the introduction of digital health passes to reopen our skies safely.”