Coronavirus: BA chief executive hints at job cuts during 'very tough times'

Sunday 22nd March 2020 23:45 GMT

In a letter to all BA staff seen by Sky News, Alex Cruz said "of course job security is top of mind" and that the carrier is doing "everything we can to protect as many jobs as we can" during the COVID-19 crisis.

But he added that the company was "working hand in hand with [the unions] to look at all the options including the government employment assistance scheme".

Mr Cruz said he was not taking a salary for the next two months because "we are having to act fast to preserve funds" and it is the "right thing for me to do".

He continued: "We will all be making sacrifices to help protect our business, just as we are making some sacrifices in how we live our daily lives."

In a further hint at possible job cuts to come, the letter said: "We know there are tough decisions ahead but British Airways will make it through with your support."

Last week, pilots at the London Heathrow-based airline were asked to take two weeks unpaid leave in each of the next two months.

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Airlines have been hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak with severe restrictions on travel imposed by governments worldwide.

British Airways has grounded 75% of its fleet, with other airlines including Virgin Atlantic Airways and easyJet taking similar measures.

Shares in all European carriers have plunged in recent weeks as stock markets were battered by increasing fears over the economic impact of the pandemic.

The UK government has advised against all non-essential travel for 30 days and the US government has restricted travel to and from Europe.

Transatlantic routes, especially between London and New York, are British Airways' most lucrative market.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has said the government is working on a rescue deal for the airline sector.

Sky News has reported that city bankers Rothschild have been drafted in by the Treasury to advise on any deal - which is expected to be finalised in the coming days.

Low cost carrier easyJet has grounded almost all of its fleet and says it is possible that some European carriers will not survive the crisis.

Governments across Europe have imposed draconian movement restrictions on citizens and the European aviation market is grinding to a halt in what is seen as a crisis greater than that of 2008, or that following the 9/11 attacks in 2001.

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