IAG period highlights on results (variances against 2018 pro forma1, unless otherwise noted):
• Fourth quarter operating profit €765 million before exceptional items (2018 pro forma1: €715 million, 2018 statutory: €655 million)
• Passenger unit revenue for the quarter up 2.2 per cent, down 0.4 per cent at constant currency
• Airline non-fuel unit costs for the quarter down 1.7 per cent at constant currency
• Fuel unit costs for the quarter up 5.6 per cent, up 2.4 per cent at constant currency
• Operating profit before exceptional items for the year to December 31, 2019 of €3,285 million (2018 pro forma1: €3,485 million, 2018 statutory: €3,230 million), down 5.7 per cent
• Passenger unit revenue for the year up 1.0 per cent and down 0.5 per cent at constant currency
• Airline non-fuel unit costs for the year down 0.9 per cent at constant currency
• Fuel unit costs for the year up 9.6 per cent, up 5.7 per cent at constant currency
• Net foreign exchange impact for the quarter favourable €79 million, and for the year favourable €67 million
• Profit after tax before exceptional items €2,387 million down 1.4 per cent (down 40.8 per cent on a statutory basis after exceptional items)
• Final proposed dividend of 17.0 € cents per share
For definitions refer to the Alternative performance measures section.
1 Pro forma financial information is based on the Group's restated statutory results with an adjustment to reflect the estimated impact of IFRS 16 'Leases' from January 1, 2018. A reconciliation of the pro forma financial information to the Group's statutory results is included in the Alternative performance measures section.
2 December 31, 2018 comparatives are the Group's restated statutory results as reported. The 2018 results have been restated to reclassify the costs the Group incurs in relation to compensation for flight delays and cancellations as a deduction from revenue as opposed to an operating expense. There is no change in operating profit. The amount reclassified for the year to December 31, 2018 was €148 million. Further information is given in Note 2 of the Group financial statements.
Willie Walsh, IAG Chief Executive Officer, said:
"In 2019, we're reporting an operating profit of €3,285 million before exceptional items, down by €200 million compared to last year.
"At constant currency, passenger unit revenue decreased by 0.5 per cent while airline non-fuel unit costs were down 0.9 per cent.
"These are good results in a year affected by disruption and higher fuel prices. We demonstrated our robust and flexible model once again through additional cost control and by reducing capacity growth to reflect market conditions.
"We've increased investment in new aircraft, customer products and operational resilience and this has seen our airlines improve their customer performance scores this year.
"Quarter 4 was strong with an operating profit of €765 million before exceptional items.
"We're pleased to confirm that the Board is proposing a final dividend of 17.0 euro cents per share. This brings the full year dividend to 31.5 euro cents per share, subject to shareholder approval at our AGM in June. In total, we will have returned more than €4.4 billion to our shareholders since 2015."
The earnings outlook is adversely affected by weaker demand as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19). We are currently experiencing demand weakness on Asian and European routes and a weakening of business travel across our network resulting from the cancellation of industry events and corporate travel restrictions.
In Asia, flights to Mainland China have been suspended. On January 29, British Airways suspended its daily flight to both Beijing and Shanghai and Iberia suspended its three times weekly service to Shanghai on January 31. In addition, some services on other Asian routes have been reduced. From February 13, British Airways reduced its daily Hong Kong service from two to one. From March 13, it will reduce its daily service to Seoul to 3-4 times weekly.
Some of the freed-up longhaul capacity is being redeployed to routes with stronger demand. British Airways has announced additional flights to India, South Africa and the US, while Iberia is increasing capacity on US and domestic routes.
Capacity on Italian routes for March has been significantly reduced through a combination of cancellations and change of aircraft gauge and further capacity reductions will be activated over the coming days. We also expect to make some capacity reductions across our wider shorthaul network. Shorthaul capacity is not being redeployed at this stage.
The net impact of current flight cancellations and redeployed capacity is to lower IAG's FY 2020 planned capacity by approximately 1 per cent in terms of available seat kilometres to 2 per cent for the year. Our operating companies will continue to take mitigating actions to better match supply to demand in line with the evolving situation. Cost and revenue initiatives are being implemented across the business.
IAG is resilient with a strong balance sheet and substantial cash liquidity to withstand the current weakness. We have a management team experienced in similar situations and have demonstrated that we can respond quickly to changing market conditions. We are strongly positioned for the expected recovery in demand.
Given the ongoing uncertainty on the potential impact and duration of COVID-19, it is not possible to give accurate profit guidance for FY 2020 at this stage.