Thursday 2 April 2020 8:21 am

Coronavirus: British Airways to suspend 36,000 workers

British Airways is preparing to suspend 36,000 employees after it was forced to ground flights due to coronavirus. 

The airline is close to reaching a deal with union Unite after negotiating for more than a week, however some details still need to be agreed upon, the BBC reported.

Up to 80 per cent of the airline’s cabin crew, ground staff, engineers and head office employees will be furloughed, with a proportion of wages covered by the government’s coronavirus job retention scheme. 

The scheme will pay 80 per cent of a furloughed employee’s salary, capped at £2,500 per month. 

No British Airways staff are expected to be made redundant, the broadcaster said.

Independent aviation analyst John Strickland told the BBC that “tough negotiations” between British Airways and Unite meant it had taken a while to reach an agreement.

Staff at Gatwick and London City Airport will be affected by the move after British Airways paused operations at both sites during the coronavirus pandemic. 

“Due to the considerable restrictions and challenging market environment, like many other airlines, we will temporarily suspend our flying schedule at Gatwick,” a British Airways spokesperson said on Tuesday.

The aviation industry has been severely affected by the outbreak of coronavirus, which has seen passenger numbers plummet and thousands of flights grounded. 

Budget airline Easyjet earlier this week grounded its entire fleet of more than 300 planes due to the pandemic, while Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic has been seeking a rescue deal to help it survive the crisis. 

Airbus, Rolls-Royce and Heathrow have written separately to transport secretary Grant Shapps asking the government to “do all it can to support Virgin in these extremely difficult times”.