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British Airways to make 12,000 staff redundant

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British Airways has just announced a restructuring and redundancy program that could put 12,000 staff out of work.

If you thought that everything was going to return to normal once travel restrictions end, think again.

Whilst British Airways has already made use of the UK Government’s job retention scheme and furloughed 22,626 of 45,000 employees, it expects that recovery of passenger demand for air travel will take “several years”.  It is unlikely that the furlough programme will continue beyond the end of June.

This is the wording released to the Stock Exchange this afternoon:

British Airways redundancy consultation

In light of the impact of COVID-19 on current operations and the expectation that the recovery of passenger demand to 2019 levels will take several years, British Airways is formally notifying its trade unions about a proposed restructuring and redundancy programme. 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.

[…..]

Recovery to the level of passenger demand in 2019 is expected to take several years, necessitating Group-wide restructuring measures.

British Airways to make 12,000 staff redundant

Here are extracts from a letter sent to staff by British Airways CEO Alex Cruz:

We have informed the Government and the Trade Unions of our proposals to consult over a number of changes, including possible reductions in headcount. We will begin a period of consultation, during which we will work with the Trade Unions to protect as many jobs as possible. Your views matter and we will listen to all practical proposals.

The scale of this challenge requires substantial change so we are in a competitive and resilient position, not just to address the immediate Covid-19 pandemic, but also to withstand any longer-term reductions in customer demand, economic shocks or other events that could affect us. However challenging this is, the longer we delay difficult decisions, the fewer options will be open to us.

I want to pay tribute to the thousands of British Airways colleagues who are playing a vital role in the global response to the Covid-19 crisis. Whether you are supporting our repatriation flights or the transport of essential cargo; or one of the hundreds of colleagues volunteering with organisations such as the NHS, you have my sincere respect and thanks.

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 announcement coincided with the early release of IAG’s preliminary first quarter results. As you would expect given the current environment things are looking tough, although it is relatively pointless reading much into them.

The operating result before exceptional items was a loss of €535 million compared to a profit of €135 million last year. Exceptional items include fuel and foreign currency hedges which were ineffective and contributed a €1.3 billion charge to pre-tax profits.

What would a 25%-30% cut in staff numbers mean?

As the number of staff required to crew an aircraft are fixed, a 25%-30% cut in staff numbers – assuming an equal cut between office staff and crew – would mean a 25%-30% reduction in flights.

How this pans out remains to be seen.  British Airways would presumably leave either Gatwick or Heathrow Terminal 3 permanently, although it is unlikely that it could do both.

The current phasing out of the Boeing 747 fleet would free up some capacity, but there are outstanding orders to replace many of these.  Whether these can be cancelled or not is up for debate – you can be sure that Boeing and Airbus won’t be letting airlines off the hook easily.  There is, quite simply, no easy option to remove this much capacity from the fleet in a logical way.  It could even be that larger aircraft such as the A380 fleet and Boeing 747 fleets become more important – not less – if airlines are forced to leave substantial numbers of seats empty.  There are a lot of discussions to be had.

PS.  If you think this is extreme, it may be not enough.  SAS announced today that it is making almost 40% – 5,000 – of its employees redundant.

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Comments (161)

  • Delbert says:

    Very sad times but not entirely unexpected. A quick daily glance at the Flightradar app tells me all I need to know.

  • Baji Nahid says:

    My thoughts and prayers are with all BA staff in these difficult times.

  • Herschel Savage says:

    My thoughts are with the staff

  • Jeff says:

    “The current phasing out of the Boeing 747 fleet” – has this been speeded up as a result of C-19? What is the latest position regarding their fleet of 747 ?

  • Spaghetti Town says:

    rob – you haven’t mentioned the 80/20 slot rule. If that comes back next year they’ll still need to fly as many planes as they do now.

  • James Davies says:

    Wow, this is really sad news. I don;t know if the lockdown is worth it personally…

    • Matty says:

      Think of the environment. Every cloud and that…

      • Delbert says:

        The last thing I’m worrying about right now is fanciful emissions improvements. I’m far more concerned about unemployment, poverty, personal debt, homelessness, hunger, the economy and where the heck we’re heading.

        Let’s keep things in perspective.

        • Novice says:

          I’m afraid a lot of people think like you which doesn’t bode well for the human race in the long term.

          Climate change will cause more suffering than covid.

          Personally I love seeing wildlife coming into cities and for the first time hearing birds and seeing stars. It’s magical. I travel a lot with some guilt but now I try to offset my footprint.

          • Helen says:

            Agree, currently there is A LOT of work going on behind the scenes on a Green Recovery….especially before COP26 next year

          • meta says:

            But didn’t all reports say that house living contributes something like 36% to climate change due to energy consumption, etc. With lockdowns around the globe for sure this has increased as well as people are using more electricity, gas, etc.

          • Delbert says:

            Novice and Helen, I hope you have sufficient funds to ride out this storm. Jeez.

            Out of interest, are you a comedy double act per chance?

          • Don says:

            I totally agree. The thing about the climate emergency is that there are no dissenting scientific views whatsoever. it is simply canon fact. As clear as Night & Day.

          • Novice says:

            @Delbert chill out dude.

            I’m stating facts and thankfully I do have sufficient funds but even if I didn’t the fact remains.

            Climate change will displace, kill, wipe out more resources and people in the world 🌎

        • Ben says:

          We can work on mitigating climate change AND the economic and social issues you list. Putting it as an either / or is a false dichotomy!

          • Novice says:

            True. Definitely what I mean.

          • Spaghetti Town says:

            And the first step should be to Stop flying and ditch all your miles cards. That will help reduce your CO2 footprint.

          • Novice says:

            I offset , have done for a couple years….

          • Spaghetti Town says:

            @ Novice. Why not fly nowhere at all and then you can be a net contributor to the environment instead of off setting.

          • Lady London says:

            I thought someone suggested having no children would be the best way of reducing your carbon footprint? was a few months ago on here.

          • Anuj says:

            Thank you agree 100% !

      • Lady London says:

        Apparently the ozone layer over the South Pole is thickening again. Which is really good news.

        If it’s true then this is surely a pointer as to damage the human race is responsible for I might even have to give the Green lobby a bit more time soon …looks like they may be right.

    • Nige says:

      You think that, without a lockdown, people would’ve been happily booking flights with bodies piling up around them in even greater numbers than at present? When I went to the cinema before the lockdown, it was empty apart from the two of us. The virus was the problem keeping people away.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        What data do you have that travel adds to the number of cases in your home country when the disease is already widespread ?

        Banning or restricting people leaving discrete areas where there are outbreaks is a proven strategy. Banning people travelling everywhere isn’t.

        Don’t for one second think all of the measures put in place by different countries are based on actual facts.

        • CV3V says:

          The thing about everyone quoting lack of data and science etc. is that this is the first pandemic in the modern world, so there isn’t lots of data etc., in place of that common sense and to err on the side of caution seems reasonable. In a years time when the experts look back on this and review the evidence then they will know what approach was wrong and what worked.

          Apparently the data on wearing masks in inconclusive, yet governments across the world are saying to wear them while Westminster government waits on data (that data only comes from studying infection rates of the population i.e you and I).

          Vietnam, population 97M, ignored WHO advise and closed its borders very early on, their approach worked. NZ saw what was coming, they too ignored WHO advice and stopped all international travel, brought in self quarantine for its citizens returning, seems to have worked.

          • BSI1978 says:

            Downing Street are largely refusing to get off of the fence re wearing masks as there is a lack of them for NHS and other key workers etc. As soon as there is enough for the frontline staff, I would imagine the advice will change quite quickly. Difficult to see how any form of lockdown exit doesn’t include the requirement to wear masks whilst out in public.

          • Alfonso says:

            Public Health lives and breathes data, and has two work paces: Usually glacial, where there is always a desire for more data, and lighting speed in emergencies, where you get on with the specific job and ignore everything else. Problem is, when a fire alarm goes off, the data tells you the fire alarm has gone off, not that there’s a proven fire, so while everyone else is running down the stairs to the car park, Public Health is checking if there’s any internationally peer reviewed evidence to suggest the building is on fire. Sometimes following the science is lethal.

  • John Smith says:

    Is this the world Greta wanted?

    • Chris K says:

      *Greta’s parents

    • Novice says:

      No probably not but I believe this is the time maybe the last opportunity humans will have to change systems and better protect and respect nature.

      This is nature’s warning.

  • Hunter says:

    Am guessing that there’s less ‘rush’ now for the third runway..?!

    • TGLoyalty says:

      It’s going to take 10-15 years to build. The rush is the same as it should have been 10–5 years ago.