British Airways could make up to 12,000 of its staff redundant as a result of the impact of the coronavirus crisis.
The carrier said it had informed staff, the government and trade unions of its intentions to carry out a period of consultation with plans to restructure the business.
Parent company IAG said the restructure of British Airways remained subject to consultation but added that it was “likely to affect most of British Airways’ employees”.
British Airways chief executive Alex Cruz said the “outlook for the aviation industry has worsened” over recent weeks, leaving the airline with no choice but to take action.
He reiterated that the airline needed to “act decisively” to ensure the future of the brand, adding that the business was doing every possible to conserve money to help BA “weather the storm in the short-term”.
He described the current crisis as something the airline needed overcome itself, with “no government bailout standing by for BA”. He said the airline couldn’t expect the taxpayers to “offset salaries indefinitely” and that any borrowed funds would only address issues in the short-term.
He said: “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.
“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.”
He said staff views were important and that the airline would “listen to all practical proposals”.
Cruz added: “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.”
In its preliminary first-quarter results, IAG reported group operating losses of €535 million during quarter one of 2020. It said total revenue had declined by 13% to €4.6 billion compared to €5.3 billion in the prior year period.
In a statement IAG said its expected the “recovery of passenger demand to 2019 levels will take several years.”