MADRID (Reuters) – The chief executive of British Airways-owner IAG, Luis Gallego, said on Wednesday he hoped the North Atlantic corridor for air travel would be open by late June, early July.
Countries such as the United States need to be included in Britain’s green list of safe destinations very soon, Gallego, speaking at a virtual event on the prospect of the tourism industry in 2021, said, citing its high level of vaccination – “one of the best in the world”.
The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated the airline industry, grounding thousands of planes worldwide and sending companies scrambling for cash as countries shut their borders and restricted mobility for all but essential reasons.
“We will all have a huge amount of debt after this crisis so all of us will be smaller for some time after this crisis,” Gallego said. “Some won’t survive: there will be opportunities for consolidation we’ll participate in to develop our business.”
Asked whether the trend would lead to two or three dominant airlines in each continent, Gallego agreed and stressed the importance of better combining different flight networks to improve customer experience.
He cited IAG‘s joint businesses in the North Atlantic and Middle East as a key factor in the company’s recovery and expansion – particularly the partnership with Qatar Airways.
“Higher taxes and more costs in airports is not the solution,” Gallego said, in a possible reference to some EU countries’ plans to increase taxes on short-haul flights and introduce a frequent traveller tax to reduce carbon emissions.
Gallego instead called for more plants producing less-polluting sustainable aviation fuel.
(Reporting by Clara-Laeila Laudette and Nathan Allen; Editing by Alison Williams and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)