British Airways is “fighting for survival” and must be allowed to get aircraft back in the air, chief executive Alex Cruz warned this week.
Alex Cruz told a committee of UK MPs: “We are taking every measure to make it through, but we don’t see a short-term coming back of passengers.
“People are still afraid of travelling and we are having weekly changes to the [UK] corridors list. We still don’t have a testing solution.”
He said: “The weekly changes to quarantine are incredibly disruptive. It is urgent we have a testing regime so we can reduce quarantine. We ask the government to move quickly.”
Appearing before Parliament’s Transport Select Committee, Cruz said: “Covid has devastated British Airways and our sector and we are still fighting for survival.
“We must be able to get our aircraft in the air again. We need to be able to fly to more destinations.”
He called for “a consistent list of countries”.
Cruz insisted: “We fully understand the quarantine. The solution will be a vaccine. But in between quarantine and a vaccine we need some sort of testing regime that will minimise the quarantine process. We are open to a trial of any scheme as soon as possible.”
He also appealed for coordination between governments, saying: “We fly to more than 100 countries and we are exposed to more than 100 country policies.
“The measures need to be comparable. We must talk to Europe, to the US, to other countries and find bilateral agreements to facilitate a restart.
“It’s important we get together to learn what works and what does not and implement trials. But let’s do it quickly.”
Cruz pointed out: “After the financial crisis [2008-09] it took four years to recover the financial crisis and the proportion of business travels travelling in premium classes never recovered not even to last year.”
He warned: “We are facing a very uncertain future. There is no way of knowing what traffic to expect over the coming years.
“We expect a fundamental transformation of demand.”
Cruz dismissed the suggestion that BA had carried out a long-planned redundancy and restructuring programme when it announced almost 13,000 redundancies in May, telling MPs: “There is no way we would have pursued the volume of structural change at this pace if we had not had this pandemic.”
He declined to comment on a suggestion by the chair of the committee, Huw Merriman MP, that the departure of Willie Walsh as chief executive of BA parent IAG this month had allowed the airline to reach agreement with trade unions.
BA has withdrawn a threat to impose new contracts on many staff after reaching agreements with unions representing most employees and now expects the redundancy total to be 10,000.
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