Breaking: British Airways set to cut up to 12,000 employees amid coronavirus restructuring

Apr 28, 2020

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British Airways is set to cut as many as 12,000 employees in light of the coronavirus crisis and the ongoing effect it’s had on the aviation industry. That’s a quarter of the workforce.

On Tuesday, British Airways CEO Alex Cruz detailed in a letter to employees that the airline’s parent company International Airlines Group (IAG) would undergo a restructuring and redundancy program.

“We are taking every possible action to conserve cash, which will help us to weather the storm in the short-term,” Cruz wrote in the letter to employees. “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.”

Cruz noted the bleak outlook for the aviation industry in the near-term future, and that British Airways isn’t looking to the U.K. government for a bailout.

“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,” Cruz said. “ We have informed the Government and the Trade Unions of our proposals to consult over a number of changes, including possible reductions in headcount.”

The IAG layoffs and restructuring will mostly affect BA employees and could result “in the redundancy of up to 12,000 of them.”

The letter from Cruz to BA employees followed the release of IAG’s preliminary first-quarter results. In it, the company detailed that total revenue dropped by 13% to $5.7 billion compared to $6.6 billion in the year prior.

Since the start of the downturn in travel and subsequent lockdown period, British Airways had already announced that it had furloughed more than 22,000 employees.

According to IATA, full-year passenger traffic is expected to fall by 48%, while passenger revenues are expected to plummet by 55% compared to 2019.

British Airways is operating just a selection of flights. The airline’s home airport London Heathrow has shut down one of its runways and closed two terminals in light of the news that passenger traffic through the airport was expected to be 90% down for the month of April.

IAG will unveil its full first-quarter results on May 7.

British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) has not commented on Tuesday’s announcement.

 Featured photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images.

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