British Airways expected to suspend 36,000 staff amid coronavirus crisis

British Airways is expected to announce it will suspend 36,000 staff, from cabin crew to ground staff, engineers and head office employees, because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The airline, which grounded its planes at Gatwick airport earlier this week, has been negotiating with the Unite union for more than a week.

The two sides have reached a broad agreement but still need to hammer out some details, the BBC reported. A BA spokesperson said: “Talks continue.”

Under the agreement, up to 80% of BA employees will be placed on furlough, but no one will be made redundant.

At Gatwick and London City Airport, all BA staff will be suspended after the airline stopped flying to and from both airports until the pandemic is over. It is still running services at Heathrow.

Those affected will receive some of their wages through the government’s coronavirus job retention scheme. It covers 80% of salary capped at a maximum of £2,500 a month.

The aviation industry has been hit hard by the travel restrictions imposed because of the coronavirus crisis. Thousands of airline staff have been temporarily laid off or are taking unpaid leave. Easyjet and Virgin are setting up schemes for thousands of laid-off crew to volunteer over the next two months with the NHS or work in supermarkets.

BA’s parent company, International Airlines Group (IAG), is in a better financial position than other carriers. It has extended a £1.1bn credit buffer by a year to June 2021. This means it has access to €9.3bn (£8.2bn) in cash, cash equivalents and loans.

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