British Airways owner IAG says recovery will not be before 2023

Emmanuel Macron

French president Emmanuel Macron Credit FRANCK FIFE AFP via Getty Images

Shares in International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG) continue to fall this week as the company pushes forward with its planned €2.75 billion capital raise, with major shareholder Qatar Airways supporting the move in exchange for board representation.

The Spanish-registered group, which also owns Iberia and Aer Lingus, said its annual shareholder meeting would be held on September 8, at which shareholders will be asked to approve the capital increase.

British Airways owner IAG has said it will take until at least 2023 for passenger levels to recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The company plunged to a pre-tax loss of €4.2 billion (£3.8bn) in the first six months of the year against a €1bn (£0.9bn) profit in the same period a year ago.

"We strongly believe that now is the time to look to the future and strengthen IAG's financial and strategic position", CEO Willie Walsh said in a statement today.

"We have seen evidence that demand recovers when government restrictions are lifted", he said, adding that IAG had taken extra measures to reassure customers about health and safety.

Global aviation body IATA has said it does not expect a full recovery until 2024. The London-based group had total liquidity of 8.1 billion euros as of June 30 after tapping state-backed loans in the United Kingdom and Spain. The company warned in April it had run out of other ways to save cash as the pandemic has hammered its revenue.

Britain's BALPA pilots' trade union is meanwhile consulting members over a provisional agreement with BA over plans to cut wages by 20% and potentially shed about 270 jobs. The ballot closes on Friday.

As of 1115 BST, shares of IAG were falling 9.44% to 163.95p and trading just off their session lows.

London's FTSE 100 index, on which the group is listed, flatlined at 5 987.62 points.

A tentative return to flying in Europe, needed to salvage airline's peak summer season when they make most of their profits, has been threatened by signs of rising Covid-19 cases in some popular holiday destinations such as Spain and France.

"The airline sector is in desperate need of cash to help see it through a very hard period and investors will be taking considerable risk by participating in its rights issue".

"Our demand is not what we're actually seeing in our bookings, because bookings are being suppressed by government restrictions", Walsh said.

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