Thousands of British Airways’ staff will find out in the coming days whether they have lost their jobs as the airline pushes ahead with its restructuring plan in a battle to survive the worst crisis in its history.
From today, BA cabin crew, engineers and ground staff will start receiving letters informing them of the outcome of plans to cut up to 12,000 jobs, almost 30 per cent of the airline’s workforce, following months of tough talks during the coronavirus crisis.
According to BA, more than 6,000 staff have applied for voluntary redundancy, which will help reduce the number of compulsory job cuts. The majority of these — about 4,500 — are from BA’s Gatwick and Heathrow cabin crew.
The rest of BA’s staff will find out soon whether they will be made redundant, will still have a job but be required to sign a new contract on lower pay, or will keep their job on the same contract.
In an email sent to staff on Friday and seen by the Financial Times, BA chief executive Alex Cruz warned that the airline faced a “very slow recovery over the next few years and, during that time, we do not have enough jobs for everyone”.
He added: “As more countries close, as our corporate clients speak with no short-term confidence about returning to business travel, and as we continue to burn through our cash reserves every day, many fantastic aviation careers are coming to an end, abruptly, and certainly before they were intended to finish.”
The latest developments come a week after BA’s pilots voted in favour of a deal of pay cuts and voluntary redundancies, which included voluntary working, an initial 20 per cent pay reduction and the creation of a standby pool of 300 pilots on reduced wages. The agreement will reduce the number of compulsory job cuts from 1,255 to 270, out of a total pilot workforce of 4,300.
But BA has struggled to reach a deal with Unite and GMB, which represent thousands of its cabin crew, engineers and maintenance staff. Last week, Unite warned that it plans to move towards industrial action as it steps up its fight against the airline’s decision to cut pay and axe up to 12,000 jobs.
The two unions have hit out at the actions of BA, particularly its threat to “fire and rehire” thousands of staff on lower pay. Last month, the airline proposed to limit pay cuts for cabin crew to 20 per cent of their basic salary. The carrier claims that the new proposals would mean more than 40 per cent of BA’s cabin crew would receive an increase in their basic salary.
The move to push ahead with job cuts comes a week after IAG, BA’s parent company, posted a second-quarter loss for the three months to the end of June of more than €2bn and launched a €2.75bn emergency fundraising to see it through the Covid-19 pandemic.
Willie Walsh, chief executive at IAG, said the airline group had lost more in the quarter than it had ever lost in a year and was “facing an unprecedented crisis”.
BA noted that its recent results clearly show “the enormous financial impact of Covid-19 on our business. We are having to make difficult decisions and take every possible action now to protect as many jobs as possible”.
German airline group Lufthansa on Thursday became the latest carrier to issue a more cautious outlook as worries grow over a second wave of coronavirus and fresh travel restrictions.
It warned it can no longer rule out job cuts in its home country despite having taken a €9bn government bailout. The German group has already said it would shed 22,000 staff and retire 100 aircraft.
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