March 18, 21 - 10:24 am - Reuters

Brazil airline Gol says first quarter will be worse than expected due to pandemic second wave

Gol Linhas Aereas Inteligentes on Thursday said it was revising downward its outlook for early 2021, suggesting the pandemic‘s second wave in Brazil is having significant negative impact on the air travel market.

While Gol had expected that Q1 revenue would come in at BRL 2.4 billion ($429.72 million), it is now forecast to only total BRL 1.7 billion. The new revenue estimate represents just 52% of a pre-pandemic levels, down from two-thirds.

Gol, Brazil’s largest airline, reported a modest profit of BRL 16.8 million ($3.01 million) in the fourth quarter, which is part of Brazil’s high season. Still, Gol lost a total of BRL 6 billion in 2020, in large part due to the pandemic that upended air travel.

Gol’s less optimistic outlook is just the latest sign that Brazil’s second coronavirus wave, which just this week hit record highs for daily deaths and new infections, is negatively affecting the economy as health restrictions hamper travel demand.

Gol said its March numbers were the most affected by the new wave and that it had had to reduce its flight schedule to 40% of pre-pandemic levels.

The airline also increased its expected cash burn for the first quarter to 3 million reais a day from an original estimate of 2 million reais a day.

Azul had a net loss of BRL 317.4 million in the fourth quarter, the airline’s best performance since the country’s pandemic began, according to data released earlier on Thursday.

Likewise, in the beginning of the month, Azul Airlines executives said they expected a drop in passenger demand in March and April, but a recovery will follow. Azul’s revenue in Q4 doubled in comparison with the third quarter, to BRL 1.8 billion, but follows almost half of what it was before the arrival of the coronavirus in the country.

In 2020, Azul had a loss of BRL 10.8 billion.