Spain's Melia Hotels in the red after pandemic results in worst quarter ever

MADRID (Reuters) - Spain's Melia Hotels MEL.MC swung to a first-half loss after suffering what its CEO called the worst quarter in the company's history as the coronavirus forced hotel closures across the globe.

“In April and May our revenues decreased almost to zero,” Chief Executive Gabriel Escarrer said on Thursday as the company reported its results, adding that a low level of activity had restarted in June.

Just 12% of Melia’s available rooms were open during the April-June quarter as global travel was brought to a near standstill at the height of the pandemic in Europe, with flights grounded and most countries imposing nationwide lockdowns.

First-half group revenue slumped 63% to 319.2 million euros, while revenue per available room (RevPAR) - a closely watched metric in the hotel industry - fell 40%, Melia said.

Spain accounts for 43% of Melia’s total portfolio of rooms.

The group, founded in 1956, reported a net loss of 358.6 million euros (324.08 million pounds) for the first six months of the year, against a 47.7 million euro profit in the first half of 2019.

Since June the company has begun to reopen operations at different speeds in different countries, depending on travel restrictions in place.

Spain will remain the main driver of the business for now, the company said.

It expects to have almost 60 Spanish hotels open in July, concentrated on the mainland coast and the Balearic and Canary Islands, where it expects the summer season to be shorter than usual.

Resort hotels are recovering quicker than hotels in cities, while independent travellers are recovering at the highest rate, Melia said.

But the company declined to give any detailed guidance for the coming months, citing the high level of uncertainty and low visibility of future demand.

Reporting by Nathan Allen; Editing by Jan Harvey and Susan Fenton