Coronavirus: BA union pledges to flight for every job as thousands face axe | Business News

Pilots’ union Balpa has pledged to fight for every job after the owner of British Airways announced a huge restructuring that could see up to 12,000 staff made redundant.

International Airlines Group (IAG) has already grounded the vast majority of BA’s fleet because of the coronavirus pandemic and warned that demand was expected to take “several years” to recover.

The group, which also owns Spain’s Iberia and Ireland’s Aer Lingus, reported a loss of €535m (£458m) for the first quarter of 2020 – mainly linked to BA – and said it expected the situation to deteriorate in the current period.

IAG said in a statement that in the light of the slump in trading it was “formally notifying its trade unions about a proposed restructuring and redundancy programme”.

The group added: “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.

“As previously announced, British Airways has availed itself of the UK’s COVID-19 job retention scheme and furloughed 22,626 employees in April.”

British Airways' chief executive, Alex Cruz has told Sky News the IT problems that stopped flights this weekend are not due to the outsourcing of jobs to India.
British Airways’ chief executive Alex Cruz: ‘We must act decisively now’

Brian Strutton of the pilots’ union, Balpa, responded: “BA pilots and all staff are devastated by the announcement of up to 12,000 possible job losses in British Airways.

“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 airline is not alone in feeling the strain, with rivals seeking state aid to help keep them in the air beyond the freeze in flights.

Lufthansa is understood to be in talks over a €9bn loan from the German taxpayer while Virgin Atlantic has admitted it will collapse without extra help amid loan negotiations with the British government.

The scale of the crisis was underlined on Wednesday when aeroplane maker Airbus – which has itself furloughed 3,200 staff at its plant in north Wales – reported a 49% fall in quarterly profits and said it was facing “the gravest crisis the aerospace industry has ever known”.

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In a letter to BA’s 42,000 workers, chief executive Alex Cruz said the airline had to “take action now” as there was “no government bailout standing by for BA” or loan that would resolve its long-term challenges.

He wrote: “We do not know when countries will reopen their borders or when the lockdowns will lift, and so we have to reimagine and reshape our airline and create a new future for our people, our customers and the destinations we serve.”

Mr Cruz added: “This has been a difficult message to write and one I never thought I would need to send.

“I know how tight-knit the BA family is, and how concerned you will be, not just for yourself but for your colleagues, too.

“We must act decisively now to ensure that British Airways has a strong future and continues connecting Britain with the world, and the world with Britain.”

The company gave no details on which areas of the business were likely to bear the brunt of the expected cuts.

It has around 4,500 pilots and 16,000 cabin crew.

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