There are unconfirmed reports that British Airways is considering launching a consultation with pilots and the BALPA pilots union that could see 800 flight crew jobs axed because of the ongoing novel Coronavirus crisis. If correct, the job losses would result in a near 18 per cent reduction in BA’s 4,500 strong pilot workforce.
First reported by Mark Kleinman of Sky News who cited unnamed sources, the reports have not been independently confirmed and both British Airways and BALPA have so far declined to comment.
In March, BALPA warned that “an unspecified number” of pilots faced redundancy at the Heathrow-based airline but later struck a deal with British Airways to avoid job losses with reduced hours and pay cuts. In April and May, pilots have agreed to take two weeks of unpaid leave but reduction in pay will be spread over three months.
The deal was agreed before the UK government announced a special Coronavirus job retention scheme in which employers can furlough workers and claim 80 per cent of an employees wages up to a maximum of £2,500 per month.
British Airways has used the scheme to furlough some 30,000 cabin crew and ground staff through to the end of May. The scheme has since been extended until the end of June but BA has not yet said whether it will take advantage of this offer to keep workers on its payroll.
Like so many other airlines, British Airways has been forced to slash its schedule as more than 90 per cent because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The situation is unlikely to improve by the end of May and British Airways may find itself putting a large percentage of its pilots workforce into the government furlough scheme as well.
The fact that BA is also considering mass redundancies would suggest the airline doesn’t now think there will be a rapid post-Corona recovery for the aviation industry – a sentiment shared by many European airlines including SAS who today announced plans to make 5,000 full-time employees redundant because of the crisis.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.