MPs have hit back at British Airways’ owner IAG after the firm’s chief executive confirmed that up to 12,000 proposed job cuts would still go ahead despite the extension of the job retention scheme until October.
In response to IAG chief Willie Walsh’s confirmation of the redundancies, transport select committee chair Huw Merriman said that BA’s staff “deserve to be treated better than this”:
“On the one hand, BA are happy to take taxpayers’ money from the furlough scheme which was designed to help companies avoid redundancies.
“Yet on the other, BA is ploughing ahead with a cull of their workforce and a lowering of terms and conditions.
“This is not what people would expect from our national flag carrier”, he added.
Merriman’s response came after Walsh had written to the committee saying that IAG had to act “consistent with the reality of a structurally changed airline industry in a severely weakened global economy”.
In April, BA furloughed 22,626 staff using the UK government’s coronavirus job retention scheme.
However, last month the firm also revealed it would consult on redundancies of up to 12,000 staff, including a quarter of its 4,346 pilots.
On Monday Walsh defended the cuts as part of an IAG-wide restructuring programme in a meeting with the select committee.
In its first quarter results last month the company said that its other carriers, Iberia, Vueling and Aer Lingus, would also be affected by restructuring.
Quarantine plans have ‘seriously set back’ industry recovery
In his letter, Walsh also repeated his frustrations at the government’s decision to implement a 14-day quarantine period for incoming travellers to the UK.
He wrote that the plan, along with health secretary Matt Hancock’s comments that international holidays were unlikely to be possible this summer, “had seriously set back recovery plans for our industry”.
He said BA would review its plans to begin a “meaningful” restoration of service from July due to the decision.
Walsh’s comments were echoed by 27 aviation sector leaders, including the chief executives of Ryanair, Easyjet, Tui and Heathrow Airport, in an open letter to Johnson.
Yesterday the EU announced plans to encourage its member states to begin opening their borders to encourage tourism.
Under the directives, countries are told they should open borders to those countries which have a similar epidemiological profile to their own.
In the case of the UK, the quarantine rules will not apply to those coming from France or Ireland.