June 2, 2020 / 7:27 AM / a month ago

Russia's Aeroflot first-quarter loss widens as traffic slumps

FILE PHOTO - A view shows the first Airbus A350-900 aircraft of Russia's flagship airline Aeroflot during a media presentation at Sheremetyevo International Airport outside Moscow, Russia March 4, 2020. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

(Reuters) - Russian airline Aeroflot (AFLT.MM) on Tuesday reported its first-quarter net loss widened to 22.48 billion roubles ($326.2 million) after traffic tumbled because of travel curbs imposed in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

In March alone, the carrier’s passenger traffic slumped more than a third from a year ago and was down 12.3% for the quarter, according to data Aeroflot published in April.

Aeroflot reported its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) fell by 38.8% to 13.05 billion roubles, while net loss widened by 42.8%

Russia’s flag carrier, however, said it expected market recovery to begin “in the near future as the airline industry is preparing for a gradual restart after almost three months of lockdown.

VTB Capital analysts said they expected the group’s EBITDA to fall 41% to 100 billion roubles in 2020, but saw it exceeding the 2019 level as early as in 2021.

Globally, the International Air Transport Association does not expect passenger traffic to return to pre-crisis levels until 2023 at the earliest.

Aeroflot shares rose 0.4% by 0724 GMT.

($1 = 68.9097 roubles)

Reporting by Anna Rzhevkina; editing by Jason Neely and Tomasz Janowski

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