Dhaka: British Airways (BA) is to suspend more than 30,000 staff, from cabin crew to ground staff, engineers and head office employees, until the end of May under the government furlough scheme for companies hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
Meanwhile Heathrow has shut down one of its two runways from April 6 due to the reduction in flights. “Although we are seeing significantly fewer flights at the moment, Heathrow will remain open so that we can continue to play a crucial role in helping to secure vital medical goods and food for the nation during this unprecedented epidemic,” said a spokesperson for the airport.
BA, which grounded all its planes at Gatwick recently, said all suspended employees would be paid 80 per cent of their salary under the terms of the state scheme, which caps the payout at up to GBP 2,500 per month.
It has now reached deals with all three unions that represent its staff – Unite, GMB and the British Airline Pilots’ Association. The carrier is also encouraging its staff to join volunteering schemes.
At Gatwick and London City airport, all BA staff will be suspended after the airline stopped flying to and from both airports until the end of the virus crisis. It is still running short-haul and long-haul flights at Heathrow.
BA employs 45,000 people in total, and has struck a separate deal with its 4,000 pilots, who will take four weeks’ unpaid leave between April and May.
The airline's parent company, International Airlines Group, also announced it had decided to reduce seat capacity further, by 90 per cent in April and May compared with last year.
The aviation industry has been hit hard by the travel restrictions imposed because of the coronavirus crisis. Thousands of staff have been temporarily laid off or are taking unpaid leave.
With future bookings cancelled, European carriers are expected to lose GBP 63bn in passenger revenues this year because of the travel bans, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Globally, the industry body expects airlines to lose GBP 203bn, almost halving the industry’s revenues compared with last year.