June 25, 2020 / 3:19 PM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-Stung by pandemic, Greek carrier Aegean widens Q1 loss

(Adds details, background, CEO comment, file picture available)

ATHENS, June 25 (Reuters) - Greece’s largest carrier Aegean Airlines more than doubled its loss in the first quarter compared to the same period a year earlier, hurt by the grounding of planes as part of restrictions to contain the spread of the new coronavirus.

Aegean, a member of the Star Alliance airline group, on Thursday reported a net loss of 85.4 million euros ($95.85 million) versus a loss of 35.2 million in the first quarter of 2019. Sales fell 15% year-on-year to 147 million euros.

The airline flew 2.1 million passengers, 15% fewer than in the same period a year earlier, as flights were reduced by 6%, it said.

The impact from the grounding of flights came entirely in March. Last month, Aegean’s chairman said he expects 2020 to be the worst year in its 21-year history.

The first quarter’s results were also weighed down by a 38.7 million euros charge related to fuel-cost hedging.

“In June, after the partial lifting of transport restrictions in Greece and abroad, we began the gradual resumption of flight operations with a slow recovery in sales,” CEO Dimitris Gerogiannis said.

“Surely, the coming months look difficult amidst uncertainty. Our business plan is directly affected by epidemiological developments,” he said.

Aegean has said it will ask the country’s big banks for 150 million euros of loans, under the COVID-19 Enterprise Guarantee Fund, to deal with hardships related to the pandemic. (Reporting by George Georgiopoulos Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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