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British Airways to Send Thousands of Furloughed Employees to Volunteer in Community Fight Against COVID-19

British Airways to Send Thousands of Furloughed Employees to Volunteer in Community Fight Against COVID-19

British Airways is planning on sending thousands of volunteers from departments across the business to help in the community fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. While many airlines have already announced similar plans, British Airways was slightly delayed in developing a volunteer programme because until yesterday it had failed to reach a deal to secure jobs during the crisis.

Now that a deal has been done and up to 30,000 workers find themselves furloughed for the next two months, BA is hoping otherwise idle employees will utilise their specialist skills to help in the response to the Coronavirus crisis. Along with cabin crew, who have already helped out at a giant field hospital in London, thousands of other employees are also set to lend a helping hand.

Cabin crew are an obvious choice because of their advanced first aid qualifications and “natural passion for looking after people” but there will also be teams who normally specialise in the logistics of operating an international airline who have useful skills beneficial to the community response.

“We’ve had an overwhelming response to our request for volunteers from across British Airways to help in the community fight against coronavirus,” explained Louise Evans, the airline’s director of communications.

“We’re part of the fabric of Britain and we want to play our role in these unprecedented times,” she continued. “Thanks to the nature of our business, we can contribute a unique set of skills from advanced first aid training, to experience caring for and reassuring people to managing complex logistics – all of which can deliver real care within the community.”

Evans said the airline had already been in talks with the UK’s National Health Service and could send some volunteers to field hospitals in London, Manchester and Birmingham. Others will be involved in transporting patients and staff, handling telephone calls and triaging patients, and pairing clinically trained staffers with St Johns Ambulance.

In addition, British Airways will tap into its existing partnership with the British Red Cross who are mobilising across the UK to help local food banks and hospitals.

Finally, British Airways has also followed in the footsteps of other airlines by donating amenity kits, socks and blankets for use in hospitals. The airline has also agreed to divert money from its onboard charity donation scheme to help local charities helping in the COVID-19 response.

Yesterday, British Airways struck a deal to place 30,000 employees on a government-backed furlough scheme. The deal, which unions described as “fraught”, keeps everyone in a job but employees will only be paid 80 per cent of their normal wages for both April and May.