BA owner swings to first-quarter loss, warns of major job cuts as virus punishes

FILE PHOTO: British Airways logos are seen on tailfins at Heathrow Airport in west London, Britain May 12, 2011. REUTERS/Toby Melville

LONDON (Reuters) - British Airways-owner IAG ICAG.L reported on Tuesday a big loss in the first quarter and warned it may cut up to 12,000 jobs in sweeping restructuring measures aimed at weathering the crisis inflicted on the airline industry from the coronavirus.

First-quarter operating losses before exceptional items were 535 million euros ($580 million), compared with a profit of 135 million a year ago as revenue dropped 13% to 4.6 billion euros.

Pre-tax profits were hit by an exceptional charge of 1.3 billion euros due to overhedging of its fuel and foreign currency needs for the rest of 2020, it said.

Echoing comments from its rivals, the airline said in a statement it will take several years for passenger demand to return to 2019 levels.

“British Airways is formally notifying its trade unions about a proposed restructuring and redundancy programme,” the statement added.

“The proposals remain subject to consultation but it is likely that they will affect most of British Airways’ employees and may result in the redundancy of up to 12,000 of them.”

Reporting by Josephine Mason; Editing by Keith Weir