London’s Gatwick airport could bear the brunt of British Airways’ job cuts after the airline warned its operation may not return following the coronavirus crisis that has battered the aviation sector.
In a letter to BA staff at the complex south of London, seen by the FT, Adam Carson, managing director of BA Gatwick, wrote: “As you know, we suspended our Gatwick flying schedule at the start of April and there is no certainty as to when or if these services can or will return.”
The memo was sent on Wednesday, just a day after IAG, BA’s parent company, announced plans to cut almost 30 per cent of BA’s 42,000 workforce.
The airline group warned this week that a return to 2019 passenger levels would take “several years” and said it was looking at cutting up to 12,000 jobs at the British airline.
It comes as the outlook for aviation further darkened this week, and carriers have moved from furloughing workers to making redundancies.
SAS, the Scandinavian airline, said on Tuesday that it would permanently cut about half of its workforce, while Norwegian Air Shuttle warned that the bulk of its fleet was likely to remain grounded for the next 12 months.
Gatwick represents about 20 per cent of BA’s operations. Its main hub is at Heathrow airport, and it also operates out of London City.
In late March, the carrier temporarily closed its operations at London City and stopped flying from Gatwick a week later. The letter was first reported by the BBC.
While Gatwick may suffer a bigger portion of the job cuts, some within the industry are sceptical that BA would leave London’s second biggest airport completely. Job cuts are expected to take place across all of the airline’s airport operations.
Meanwhile, a separate letter sent to BA’s pilots laid out the scale of the airline’s plans to cut jobs and restructure working conditions.
It has proposed to cut about a quarter of 4,300 pilot jobs, and said it was proposing to meet minimum statutory obligations as the cost of delivering any enhanced voluntary redundancy programme would now be “prohibitively expensive”.
In the memo, Al Bridger, BA’s director of flight operations, wrote: “We are now at a critical juncture and must table proposals for structural change so that our business is in a credible position to respond to what will be a challenging and uncertain trading environment for a sustained period of time.”