BA Parent Company Books Huge Loss, Pushes for Digital Passes

BA Parent Company Books Huge Loss, Pushes for Digital Passes
In this file photo, British Airways planes are parked at Heathrow Airport in London, on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017. (Frank Augstein/AP Photo File)

LONDON—The parent company of British Airways and Iberia on Friday said it lost €6.9 billion ($8.3 billion) last year as the pandemic caused a near-total collapse in international air traffic, and called for digital passes to help revive travel.

IAG’s after-tax loss compared with a profit of €1.7 billion the year before. Its revenue slumped 70 percent to €7.8 billion ($9.4 billion).

“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 the new coronavirus 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.”