British Airways has warned its employees that there could be mass redundancies because of the COVID-19 pandemic and that 12,000 jobs could be axed as it launched formal consultation with trade unions over the proposals. The airline’s chief executive, Alex Cruz wrote to staffers to say British Airways was now preparing for “a different future” but that the carrier “must act decisively now to ensure that British Airways has a strong future”.
“In light of the impact of COVID-19 on current operations and the expectation that the recovery of passenger demand to 2019 levels will take several years, British Airways is formally notifying its trade unions about a proposed restructuring and redundancy programme,” BA’s parent company announced in a statement on Tuesday.
“The proposals remain subject to consultation but it is likely that they will affect most of British Airways’ employees and may result in the redundancy of up to 12,000 of them.” Over 22,000 employees have currently been furloughed on a special government-funded job retention scheme.
Len McCluskey, the general secretary of the Unite union which represents many of BA’s cabin crew described the announcement as “devastating” and said it would be a “stab in the back” for the close-knit crew community. The planned job losses was revealed on the same day as a funeral of a member of cabin crew who died from COVID-19.
McCluskey slammed BA’s chief executive Alex Cruz, saying the job losses were “irresponsible, dangerous and destructive” and that it was “utterly at odds with the mood of the country at a time of crisis.”
The Unite union demanded British Airways take advantage of government support to secure the future employment of its workers caught up in the pandemic.
But Cruz told staffers in an open letter that there was no government bailout waiting for British Airways and that the airline cannot “expect the taxpayer to offset salaries indefinitely”.
“However challenging this is, the longer we delay difficult decisions, the fewer options will be open to us,” Alex wrote.
BA’s parent company, International Airlines Group (IAG) reported a first quarter loss of €535 million because of the Coronavirus crisis. IAG has refused to offer any guidance on full-year results because of the pandemic but said it expected the second quarter to be “significantly worse” than the first quarter.
Passenger capacity across the airline group has be slashed by 94 per cent in April and May and it’s unlikely to recover by much, if anything at all, in June.
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.