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Russia's Aeroflot falls to second quarter loss as air traffic tumbles

(Reuters) - Russia's biggest airline Aeroflot AFLT.MM on Monday reported a second-quarter net loss of 35.79 billion roubles ($485 million) as coronavirus-related restrictions curbed travel.

Aeroflot Airbus A320-200 plane lands at Sheremetyevo International Airport outside Moscow, Russia March 4, 2020. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

Its passenger traffic fell by 88.8% as most international flights to and from Russia were halted due to the pandemic.

International flights were grounded on March 30 after the lockdown was imposed to curb the spread of coronavirus, which has infected more than 980,000 people in Russia so far and killed more than 16,900.

In the same period last year, Aeroflot posted a net profit of 6.93 billion roubles.

The airline said it had reached a number of deals on transfers of payments and “special” conditions with some of its partners.

The carrier said in June it considered postponing deliveries of some aircraft, which it planned to add to its fleet, until sometime nearer next summer.

In contrast to many global airlines, which had said they may shrink their workforces due to a collapse in air travel, Aeroflot did not mention any workforce cuts.

Russia has drafted a support plan for Aeroflot whereby the government and state bank VTB VTBR.MM would take part in a share issue worth 80 billion roubles ($1.15 billion), two sources said in June.

In June, Aeroflot also received 70 billion roubles worth of state guarantees.

Tentative signs of an air travel recovery in Europe after a three-month pause have been undermined by new localized outbreaks and restrictions, leading some airlines to seek state support.

Aeroflot approved an additional share issue this month without specifying the amount it plans to raise.

In July, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said it now expects global passenger numbers for 2020 to decline by 55% compared with 2019 versus its April forecast of 46%.

Aeroflot’s CEO said last month the carrier may see half the amount of passenger traffic in 2020.

($1 = 73.7900 roubles)

Reporting by Anna Rzhevkina; editing by Jason Neely and Hugh Lawson