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British Airways owner IAG has said it is planning for a “meaningful return” of flights in July at the earliest if lockdown measures are relaxed. However, IAG – which also owns Iberia and Aer Lingus – said these plans were “highly uncertain”, and were subject to various travel restrictions.

IAG said it did not expect passenger demand, which has been hit by the pandemic, to recover before 2023. BA is set to cut up to 12,000 jobs due to the collapse in business.

Willie Walsh, IAG’s chief executive, said: “We are planning for a meaningful return to service in July 2020 at the earliest, depending on the easing of lockdowns and travel restrictions around the world.”

He added: “We will adapt our operating procedures to ensure our customers and our people are properly protected in this new environment.”

The group said it expected that passenger capacity would still only be half the usual level in 2020, despite some flights potentially resuming in summer.

Since late March, it has already fallen by 94%, with most of its aircraft grounded, it said.

The announcement came as IAG reported an operating loss of €535m (£466.6m) for the first three months of the year, marking a sharp reversal from a profit of €135m a year earlier.

In an attempt to shore up cash during the coronavirus crisis, the group said that it expected to defer deliveries of 68 aircraft. It added that it expected the second quarter to be “significantly worse”.

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