36,000 British Airways employees furloughed amid crisis in aviation industry

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Britain-based airline company British Airways will suspend around 36,000 of its 45,000 staff members due to the blow delivered by the coronavirus pandemic as many countries have forced airlines to cancel most of their flights as a precautionary measure against the spread of the virus.

British Airways, one of the largest airlines in the U.K., will transfer 36,000 of its employees, including engineers, office workers and cabin crew, to the government’s job-retention scheme, which will cover 80% of their salaries during this period.

The decision came after the airline reached a broad deal with the Unite union. According to the Daily Mail, officials of British Airways refused to discuss the deal, saying “talks are ongoing.”

However, a spokesman for Unite said the union has been working around the clock to protect thousands of jobs and to ensure the U.K. comes out of this unprecedented crisis with a viable aviation sector.

Recently, British Airways canceled all flights at Gatwick Airport, the second busiest airport in the country, after easyJet stopped its operations due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The airline, in contrast to easyJet, which became the first British airline to take its entire fleet out of service, is still operating from London Heathrow with a reduced schedule.

“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 spokesman said.

According to The Daily Mail, British Airways CEO Alex Cruz wrote to all 45,000 workers saying the virus’s relentless spread is a crisis “of global proportions like no other we have known.”

He said the coronavirus outbreak is more serious than the 2008 financial crash, SARS or 9/11.

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