Wednesday 18 March 2020 10:11 pm

IAG boss Willie Walsh to take pay cut amid coronavirus strife

British Airways owner IAG’s boss Willie Walsh, who earlier this week deferred his retirement to guide the airline group through the coronavirus crisis, has volunteered take a 20 per cent pay cut.

Walsh’s decision, which was first reported by Sky News, makes him the latest in a series of prominent airline executives such as Virgin Atlantic’s Shai Weiss to take such a step due to the severity of the situation. 

The slump in passenger demand due to the coronavirus has left many airlines on the brink, and the industry has been calling on the government to step in to provide it with the financial support it needs to survive the crisis.

Yesterday chancellor Rishi Sunak said that he was in discussions with transport secretary Grant Shapps about a special package of measures specifically for airlines.

Industry sources told Sky that these would include a proposal to guarantee the sums that passengers have already paid to credit card companies for flights but which have not yet been passed on to the airlines.

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Such holdbacks played a critical role in the collapse of Flybe, which was owned £50m by credit card companies when it went under earlier this week.

Ministers are also in discussion about raising the cap on state aid for companies in difficulty through emergency legislation.

The Times reported that the measure, which would lift the £12bn limit, will be announced tomorrow. 

Earlier today Shapps chaired calls with major airlines and airports to discuss measures to support the industry as well as thank them for their efforts in repatriating British nationals stranded overseas.

He said: “Coronavirus is having a crippling impact on the aviation industry and we cannot allow it to force world-leading, well-run, profitable firms out of business.

“We are extremely grateful to airport and airline teams who are continuing to help passengers get home safely. We stand firmly behind the sector and expect to announce a series of support measures shortly.