Aer Lingus parent IAG still struggling with pandemic fallout

Part of IAG’s problem is that much of its business is long-haul travel, where many restrictions still apply

Aer Lingus parent International Airlines Group (IAG) is still struggling with the fallout from the Covid-19 crisis, which at one point last year effectively grounded world air travel.

The group, owner of British Airways, Iberia and Vueling, as well as the Irish carrier, said on Friday that it expected capacity, basically the number of seats on its flights, to be around 45 per cent of 2019 levels in the second half of the year.

In contrast, Ryanair predicted this week that it would fly almost nine million people this month, rising to more than 10 million in August. That is more than 60 per cent of its pre-Covid traffic.

Chief executive Michael O’Leary said total passenger numbers for its current financial year, which ends on March 31st, 2022, could be 90 million to 100 million, around two thirds of the numbers it flew in the 12 months ended March 31st, 2020.


Air France-KLM says that it believes capacity could be 70 per cent in the second half of 2021, when it could return to profitability. Ryanair expects to break even or make a small loss.

IAG's lag in capacity is not uniform. Chief executive, Luis Gallego, told Irish media on Friday that the Spanish carriers would reach around 75 per cent in the second half, putting them at least in line with the more general recovery in Europe.

Part of the group’s problem is that much of its business is long-haul travel, where many restrictions still apply. The US, an important market for both Aer Lingus and British Airways, is maintaining a ban on non-citizens and non-residents travelling there for now. In contrast, the EU’s Covid certificates have allowed member states to do away with quarantines for those travelling within the union, aiding recovery there.

Meanwhile, Irish and UK authorities continue to apply tougher restrictions than elsewhere on some travellers, notwithstanding that the Republic’s Government has eased curbs on EU journeys. Those restraints continue to hit Aer Lingus’s and British Airways’ home markets.