Updated: Jul 7, 2020
British Airways is on course to dismiss more than a quarter of its staff – constituted of about 4,500 pilots and 16,000 cabin crew- following a collapse in flight cancellations for coronavirus outbreak.
The airline's parent company “IAG” pointed at the desperate need for a restructuring plan until the possibility for the airline to achieve 2019 level revenues. The company declared on Tuesday a financial decline of 13%, equal to £4 billion in the first quarter of the year only.
IAG affirmed they are expecting the situation to worsen later in the year, taking several years for the profits to go back to pre-pandemic outbreak balances.
In a statement, IAG asserted: “The plans remain subject to discussion, but it is likely that it will affect most of British Airways' workforces and may result in the joblessness of up to 12,000 of them”.
“Balpa” pilots' union announced it will fight for “every single” job cut, claiming it was a “cruel decision” at a time of international crisis. “This news has come out of the blue from a company that said it was wealthy enough to overcome the pandemic hit and refused any governmental support”.
Alongside IAG's announcement, BA chief executive Alex Cruz told his team: "Recently, the aviation industry stance has so aggravated that we need to adopt measures immediately to guarantee a more solid future so that the UK keeps connecting with the world, and the world with the UK”.
The corporation provided no specifics on which areas of the business were expected to suffer expected cuts. However, IAG – the owner of Spanish airline Iberia and Ireland's Aer Lingus too- echoed other airlines cry for help.
Lufthansa is assumed to be in negotiations for a £7.8 billion loan from the German government, while Virgin Atlantic has opened up about a bankruptcy possibility if not saved by a government with a loan thought to be up to £500 million. EasyJet follows the same line, discharging its 4,000 British-based cabin crew for two months. Qantas has also put 20,000 employees on leave, while Air Canada followed the lead for about 15,200 workers. Norwegian Air declared it could run out of cash by mid-May. American Airlines, 4,800 pilots decided to take short-term leave on cut pays and more than 700 are embracing early retirement.
The fact that the aviation industry is in on the edge of an unprecedented crisis is not novel news since nobody knows when countries will be able to lift travel restrictions, and under which conditionalities people will be able to fly. But the announcement from IAG is unquestionably alarming, not only because of the number of jobs at risk but also due to the company’s explicit declaration that the aviation business recovery will be very slow-moving.
IAG made it clear: the future holds a very diverse aviation industry compared to the one we were used to until just a few weeks ago.