June 30, 2020 / 9:05 AM / in 3 days

Portugal's TAP reports Q1 net loss of $443 mln as coronavirus hits air travel

LISBON, June 30 (Reuters) - TAP posted a first-quarter net loss of 395 million euros ($443 million) mainly due to coronavirus lockdowns that halted most air travel, the Portuguese airline said on Monday.

“March was already significantly impacted by the containment measures adopted by domestic and international authorities that resulted in a significant fall in demand and led TAP to decrease its operating capacity,” TAP said in a statement.

TAP’s number of passengers transported in the first three months of the year dropped 12.6% compared to the previous year to 2.96 million. It fell 54.7% year-on-year in March alone.

In April, TAP asked for help from the Portuguese government as it was forced to suspend almost all of its 2,500 flights per week because of the collapse in demand for travel due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier this month, the European Commission approved Portugal’s plan for a 1.2 billion euro ($1.3 billion) rescue loan for TAP.

The company tried to resume some of its international operations last month as lockdown measures were slowly lifted but, with little demand, the company took a step back.

TAP, which was partly privatised in 2015 and is jointly owned by Brazilian-U.S. airline entrepreneur David Neeleman, the state, and its employees, said in the statement it might have no option but to reduce its fleet for the remaining period of 2020.

Around 90% of its employees were temporarily laid off in April, a measure which has been extended until at least July 30. ($1 = 0.8921 euros) (Reporting by Catarina Demony, Editing by Victoria Waldersee and Himani Sarkar)

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