Rolls-Royce says ‘worst behind us’ as it posts £4bn loss

Aircraft-engine maker Rolls-Royce posted a huge loss last year due to the collapse in air travel, but it told the BBC “the worst is behind us”.

Boss Warren East said 2020 had been “unprecedented”, with the company making a loss of almost £4bn, after a £583m profit the year before.

Rolls makes most of its money servicing engines, and the Covid-driven fall in airline travel has slashed revenues.

It has cut 7,000 jobs and raised cash from investors to bolster its finances.

However, Mr East said the vaccine rollout should see a pick-up in air travel in the second half of the year, although a lot depends on getting international agreement on checking passengers’ health.

The extra cash raised from shareholders was enough to see the company through the rest of the crisis, even if there was no upturn this year, he added.

“2020 was an unprecedented year… the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the group was felt most acutely by our civil aerospace business,” Mr East said.

“In response, we took immediate actions to address our cost base, launching the largest restructuring in our recent history.”

The Derby-based company expects to burn through another £2bn cash this year as it continues to restructure the business. It has warned it may have to slash a further 2,000 jobs.

But Mr East said the cuts, fundraising and disposal of assets would stabilise Rolls-Royce and set it on track for growth in the future.

“2020 was a year like none other, but we do think the worst is behind,” Mr East told the BBC.

– Bloomberg

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