British Airways and Aer Lingus owner International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG) said flights could resume with a 50% capacity by July.
It comes as IAG announced a series of cost-cutting measures to combat the “devastating impact” Covid-19 has inflicted on the travel sector since February 2020.
Due to travel restrictions, passenger capacity dropped 94% from late March, with most British Airways aircraft grounded, or operating a reduced service for repatriation and cargo-only flights.
IAG added it is planning a “meaningful return” to service in July with a capacity of 50%, although the company added: “These plans are highly uncertain and subject to the easing of lockdowns and travel restrictions”.
IAG bosses say the firm had a strong balance going into the crisis, with £8.7bn available. IAG hoped for a UK Government bailout after the Spanish government gave the business, which also owns Iberia, a loan.
But with no help coming from the Treasury, IAG has dipped into the Bank of England’s loan scheme, although this has not stopped the firm announcing plans for 12,000 redundancies.
To reduce spending, day-to-day cash costs were cut from 440 million euros (£384m) per week to 200 million euros per week.
In the three months to March 31, IAG said capacity was down 10.5% compared with 2019, with a first quarter operating loss before one-off costs of 535 million euros (£467m).
There was a one-off charge in the quarter of 1.3 billion euros (£1.1bn) to untangle complicated hedges on fuel and currency exchange costs.
Willie Walsh, IAG chief executive, said: “The operating result up to the end of February was in line with a year ago. However, March’s performance was severely affected by government travel restrictions due to the rapid spread of Covid-19 which significantly impacted demand.”
He added: “We are planning for a meaningful return to service in July 2020 at the earliest, depending on the easing of lockdowns and travel restrictions around the world.
“We will adapt our operating procedures to ensure our customers and our people are properly protected in this new environment. “
“However, we do not expect passenger demand to recover to the level of 2019 before 2023 at the earliest. This means group-wide restructuring is essential in order to get through the crisis and preserve an adequate level of liquidity. We intend to come out of the crisis as a stronger group.”The news comes just weeks after British Airways said it was set to make up to 12,000 workers redundant.