ECONOMY

Aegean Air says it cannot afford not to get state aid

aegean-air-says-it-cannot-afford-not-to-get-state-aid

Aegean Airlines, Greece’s largest carrier, expects 2020 to be the worst year in its 21-year history as restrictions imposed to contain the new coronavirus pandemic have hit revenues and grounded planes, its chairman said on Monday.

Aegean, a member of the Star Alliance airline group, suspended international flights on March 26 but will restart flights to some European destinations by the end of May.

“The fact that the third quarter will be loss-making… means that 2020 will be the worst year in our history,” board chairman Eftychios Vassilakis told investors in a conference call.

Aegean, which flew a record 15 million passengers last year, expects to increase operations to around 50% by September from 25% in July, under a best-case scenario, its chairman said.

Revenue in the first quarter, which started strong but suffered from a “disastrous” March, will be down 15% to around 145 million euros, leading to a pretax loss of about €80 million.

Vassilakis said that increasing operations to about 75%-80% could be possible next year, and, if achieved, would be a high enough level of activity to allow Aegean to compete in Europe.

On the issue of potential government help, he did not go into detail, but said, “You cannot afford to be one of the very few airlines in Europe that have not been helped.”

[Reuters]