British Airways (BA) is set to cut up to 12,000 jobs from its 42,000-strong workforce due to the collapse of leisure industry during the coronavirus pandemic.
IAG – BA’s parent company – revealed that the first three months of 2020 revenues fell 13% to £4bn, due to the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown. IAG also owns Spanish airline Iberia and Ireland’s Aer Lingus.
In a letter to colleagues from Alex Cruz, Chairman and CEO at British Airways, he said: “Yesterday, British Airways flew just a handful of aircraft out of Heathrow. On a normal day we would fly more than 300. What we are facing as an airline, like so many other businesses up and down the country, is that there is no ‘normal’ any longer.
“Our very limited flying schedule means that revenues are not coming into our business. We are taking every possible action to conserve cash, which will help us to weather the storm in the short-term. We are working closely with partners and suppliers to discuss repayment terms; we are re-negotiating contracts where possible; and we are considering all the options for our current and future aircraft fleet. All of these actions alone are not enough.
“In the last few weeks, the outlook for the aviation industry has worsened further and we must take action now. We are a strong, well-managed business that has faced into, and overcome, many crises in our hundred-year history. We must overcome this crisis ourselves, too.
“There is no Government bailout standing by for BA and we cannot expect the taxpayer to offset salaries indefinitely. Any money we borrow now will only be short-term and will not address the longer-term challenges we will face.”
IAG said it will take several years for air travel to return to pre-virus levels, a warning that has been echoed by airlines across the industry.
About 4,500 pilots and 16,000 cabin crew work for BA, which has already put almost 23,000 staff on furlough since the government restrictions came into place.
Pilots’ union Balpa General Secretary Brian Strutton said: “This has come as a bolt out of the blue from an airline that said it was wealthy enough to weather the Covid storm and declined any government support.
“Balpa does not accept that a case has been made for these job losses and we will be fighting to save every single one.”
The global aviation body, IATA, has said that the industry has never seen a downturn this deep before, and that full year industry passenger revenues could plummet 55% compared to 2019, while traffic falls 48%. Many airlines have grounded all of their planes.