British Airways, Iberia, Vueling and Aer Lingus cut flights as group tackles staff shortages

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The owner of British Airways has cut thousands of return flights from its upcoming schedules and will cut frequencies on dozens of short-haul routes in a bid to make post-pandemic profits, we have learned. IAG – International Consolidated Airlines Group – says it will fly at 80% of its pre-Covid capacity this year, having previously forecast a figure of 85%.

IAG operates BA, Spanish carriers Iberia and Vueling, and Irish airline Aer Lingus. Luis Gallego, the company’s chief executive, said the reduction in flights will allow the group to return to profit this spring and for the rest of this year, reports the Times.

And BA chief executive Sean Doyle said the airline had reduced the equivalent of 8,000 round trips, three-quarters of them on short-haul routes. This represents 10% of BA’s flight schedules between March and October, according to the Financial Times.

Over the past two years, IAG has recorded losses of 11 billion euros, including a loss of 731 million euros in the first three months of this year. Its debts would amount to 11.6 billion euros, against 6.4 billion euros a year before the pandemic.

Staff shortages, coupled with illness, have hampered BA’s performance following the easing of travel restrictions, resulting in the cancellation of thousands of flights. It must recruit 6,000 workers after laying off thousands of people at the worst time of the covid-19 epidemic.

Mr Gallego said the company’s losses in the first three months of the year reflect “normal seasonality, the impact of Omicron and the costs associated with ramping up operations”. Demand is “recovering strongly” and the company expects to return to profitability in the April-June period and in 2022 as a whole, he said.

High-end leisure travel is the “best performing segment”, Gallego said, while business travel is at its highest level since the start of the pandemic. Sean Doyle, BA’s chief executive, said: ‘We are acutely aware of the issues and are tackling all the pain points.

Mr Gallego added: “Globally, the travel industry is facing challenges due to the biggest increase in operations in history, and British Airways is no exception. The welcome removal of strict travel restrictions from the UK, combined with strong pent-up demand, contributed to a strong increase in capacity. »

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