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Confirmed: British Airways to Furlough 30,000 Staff, Slash Capacity by 90% for April and May

Confirmed: British Airways to Furlough 30,000 Staff, Slash Capacity by 90% for April and May

In an update to the London Stock Exchange late on Thursday afternoon, British Airways confirmed plans to place around 30,000 employees on a government-backed furlough scheme for at least the months of April and May. Much of BA’s workforce will now be sent home for the next two months but taxpayers will pick up 80 per cent of their pay as part of a special Coronavirus job retention scheme.

In a statement, the airline said it had reached an agreement with trade unions to place cabin crew and ground staff on furlough, although the plan is subject to final ratification from union members. The announcement follows a day of speculation after details of the news was first leaked to media outlets on Wednesday evening.

Photo Credit: British Airways

British Airways’ parent company said it would now reduce capacity across its network by 90 per cent in both April and May. International Airlines Group (IAG) also owns Iberia, Vueling and Aer Lingus. Spanish workers are being supported by a similar scheme from the Spanish government while negotiations with the Irish government continue.

“Our colleagues have done a brilliant job keeping vital routes open to reunite customers with their families, and bring back supplies to our hospitals, factories and shops,” said a spokesperson for British Airways as details of the mass-furlough was announced.

“But with the challenges of Coronavirus, like many airlines, we have been in touch with colleagues to advise that we are implementing the furlough scheme to minimise the financial impact on them,” the statement continued.

Oliver Richardson from the Unite union said the deal was a good one considering “the incredibly difficult circumstances that the entire aviation sector is facing.”

“The deal protects the jobs of BA staff and, as far as possible, also protects their pay. This is what can and should be done to protect workers during this unprecedented time for the airline sector,” Richardson commented.

The union had apparently been fighting to preserve jobs after BA’s chief executive Alex Cruz put the entire company on notice of redundancies across all departments. That threat has now been removed for the immediate future.

Earlier today, IAG told investors that it had rescinded its dividend payout for 2019 in order to preserve as much as possible to weather out the storm caused by the Coronavirus pandemic.