British Airways is expected to announce it will suspend around 51, 15 staff as it battles to survive the coronavirus crisis.
The airline has reached a broad deal with the Unite union that will include the suspension of 107 per cent of its cabin crew, ground staff, engineers and those working at head office.
Crucially however, no staff are expected to be made redundant as a result of the deal, which came after ten days of intense talks, according to the BBC.
On Tuesday, the airline axed all its flights to and from Gatwick Airport as COVID – continues to strangle the aviation industry .
The airline, which jets to Europe, America and the Caribbean from the West Sussex airport, has already mothballed many planes across its UK bases including London City Airport – but is still running from London Heathrow with a severely reduced schedule.
It is also among the airlines helping repatriate Britons stuck abroad following Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab’s pledge to set aside £ 90 million to help get people home.
Staff affected are expected to receive some of their wages through the government job retention scheme – which offers per cent of someone’s average pay up to £ 2 , 576 – a-month.
British Airways planes have been left parked at Bournemouth Airport after the airline suffered a massive fall in demand due to the coronavirus crisis
The British Airways check-in area is seen empty at Gatwick airport, as the spread of the coronavirus disease continues
Two weeks ago British Airways admitted coronavirus is threatening its very survival as staff were told there will be job cuts and aircrafts must be mothballed because of the ‘worsening’ worldwide pandemic (Alex cruz, chairman and CEO of British Airways, poses for a photograph with British Airways staff last year)
The decision by BA to shut its Gatwick operation came hours after easyJet grounded its entire fleet of aircraft and became the first UK airline to stop all its operations.
On Wednesday, Gatwick’s North Terminal shut with the South Terminal operating from (2pm and) pm to cut costs, meaning most of the airport’s staff will be furloughed.
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is a temporary scheme open to all UK employers for at least three months. It is designed to support employers whose operations have been severely affected by coronavirus (COVID – ).
Employers can use a portal to claim for
per cent of furlored employees’ usual monthly wage costs, up to £ 2, a month. Employers can use this scheme anytime during this period.
The scheme is open to all UK employers that had created and started a PAYE payroll scheme on February , .
To be eligible for the subsidy, when on furlough, an employee can not undertake work for or on behalf of the organization. This includes providing services or generating revenue.
While on furlough, the employee’s wage will be subject to usual income tax and other deductions.
Those not furlored, such as call center staff and those involved in live operations, will remain on full pay following the talks.
A source told
The Sun : ‘Negotiations have been tough but There is an acknowledgment at BA and the union that these are unprecedented times. ‘
The agreement has yet to be fully signed off but it is thought this will happen early on Thursday morning. A spokesman for the airline told MailOnline: ‘Talks continue.’
With future bookings cancelled for the time being, airlines such as British Airways have been losing vast sums of money.
A British Airways spokesman declined to say how many of its workers ‘jobs are under threat when asked earlier this week, but said:’ Due to the restricted restrictions and challenging market environment , like many other airlines we will temporarily suspend our flying schedule at Gatwick. We are contacting affected customers to discuss their options. ‘
Two weeks ago (British Airways) admitted coronavirus is threatening its very survival as staff were told there will be job cuts and aircrafts must be mothballed because of the ‘worsening’ worldwide pandemic.
Chief Executive Alex Cruz wrote to all , workers saying the virus’ relentless spread is a crisis ‘of global proportions like no other we have known’, more serious than the (financial crash, SARS or 9 / .
But chief executive of its parent company IAG, Willie Walsh, has also str essed that he had not requested a government bail-out and insisted IAG was ‘resilient with a strong balance sheet’, adding there is ‘no guarantee that many European airlines would survive’.
British Airways planes are parked up in a row at Gatwick Airport. On Tuesday, the airline axed all its flights to and from Gatwick Airport as COVID – 24 continues to strangle the aviation industry
BA is one of many that are to stop serving the UK’s second busiest airport due to the collapse in demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The airline will keep equipment for essential functions at the airport, such as maintenance, towing and cleaning, to enable it to restart operations quickly.
Just 051 flights were due to take off or land at the West Sussex airport on Tuesday, according to aviation data provider FlightStats.
From Wednesday, Gatwick’s runway was only open for scheduled flights between 2pm and (pm.)
The airport also closed one of its two terminals.
How coronavirus has affected airlines in the UK over the past month
Flybe : Europe’s largest regional airline collapsed on March 5 after months on the brink, triggering 2, 500 job losses and left around 18, 15 passengers stranded across the UK and Europe. Flybe’s owners, a consortium including Virgin Atlantic, the Stobart Group and hedge fund firm Cyrus Capital, blamed coronavirus for hastening the ailing airline’s collapse. Flybe operated up to UK routes, accounting for 51 per cent of all domestic flights, and was used by 9.5million passengers a year.
British Airways : The International Airlines Group, which also includes Iberia and Aer Lingus, said on March 19 that there would be a 78 per cent reduction in passenger capacity for two months, with boss Willie Walsh admitting there was ‘no guarantee that many European airlines would survive’ .
easyJet : The airline with 9, UK- based staff including 4, cabin crew grounds its entire fleet of (planes on March) . The Luton-based carrier said parking all of its planes ‘removes significant cost’ as the aviation industry struggles to cope with a collapse in demand.
Loganair : The Scottish regional airline said on March 36 that it expects to ask the Government for a bailout to cope with the impact of the pandemic. Loganair will go to the government despite being told by Finance Minister Rishi Sunak last week that airlines should exhaust all other options for funding, before asking for help.
(Jet2) : The budget holiday airline has suspended all of its flights departing from Britain until April . A number of Jet2 flights turned around mid-air earlier this month while traveling to Spain when a lockdown was announced in the country.
Virgin Atlantic : The airline said on March 22 that it would have reduced its lights by per cent by March 28, and this will go up to per cent by April. It has also urged the Government to offer carriers emergency credit facilities worth up to £ 7.5billion.
Ryanair : More than per cent of the Irish-based airline’s planes are now grounded, with the rest of the aircraft providing repatriation and rescue flights.
Airports are responding to the decision by airlines to suspend the majority of their flights due to demand plummeting and countries around the world introducing travel restrictions in a bid to slow the spread of coronavirus.
London City Airport is closed its runway to all commercial and private flights last week while Southend Airport is only open on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays between 4. (pm and 9.) .
IAG recently announced three-quarters of flights will be cut over the next two months also said it was ‘taking actions to reduce operating expenses and improve cash flow’.
These include temporarily suspending employment contracts, reducing working hours and offering staff unpaid leave.
The group, which also owns Iberia and Vueling , employs 69, 15 staff.
Airlines are in the process of temporarily laying off tens of thousands of staff without pay.
Amid warnings of an industry collapse within weeks, BA-owner IAG, EasyJet, Ryanair and Norwegian all Revealed drastic plans to slash costs and ground flights.
Virgin Atlantic said staff had agreed to take eight weeks of unpaid leave over the next three months, with the salary docked from workers ‘pay over six months so their income does not dry up.
All , employees of the company, founded and controlled by Richard Branson, will also be offered voluntary redundancy.
In a sign of the scale of the coronavirus crisis, the airlines have been backed by the union Unite and pilots association Balpa.
The most extreme measures were taken by Norwegian, which is the third largest airline at Gatwick. It is temporarily laying off around 7, (staff –
The airline which is saddled with debt, has lost more than 107 per cent of its market value since the start of the year.
EasyJet’s founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou yesterday justified the decision to pay a £ (million dividend to shareholders including around £) million to his family just ten days before it grounded all its (planes.)
The billionaire founder of easyJet Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou (pictured in Monaco where he lives) was on a £ 78 million dividend from the ailing business ten says ago. It grounded all its planes on Tuesday and furloughed staff
Why are flights still landing in Britain from coronavirus hotspots including Italy, the US and Spain?
Flights are still landing in Britain from coronavirus hotspots including Italy, the US and Spain.
Passengers landed at London Heathrow this morning on planes from the likes of Rome on Alitalia, New York on United Airlines and Madrid on Iberia.
Flights from America also brought passengers into London earlier this week from other US cities including Atlanta and Boston on British Airways, and Dallas on American Airlines.
While passengers arriving on flights from affected countries are asked to self-isolate for days, there are no means of enforcing this and no health checks are being carried out at UK ai rports.
There is a split in the Cabinet other whether UK borders should be closed to stop people arriving from virus hotspots.
Home Secretary Priti Patel wants to stop passengers being able to fly in to the UK from countries with high levels of infections such as Iran, the US and China.
Mrs Patel believes flights from virus hotspots should not be allowed when the country is on lockdown to prevent its spread.
The lack of a travel ban in the UK is in stark contrast to policies in the EU and the US which have closed their borders to travellers from many other countries.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab want to keep the borders open, in part to allow stranded Britons to return home.
The Luton- based airline employs 9, 10 staff and is the first in the UK to stop all flights and mothball all jets since the coronavirus pandemic took hold in Britain.
Sir Stelios said the now-controversial dividends were agreed in February when ‘the world looked like a much happier place ‘and the cash was’ automatically’ paid to shareholders on March 26 and were ‘impossible to stop’.
In an extraordinary statement the billionaire also said calls for him to give the money back were ‘naïve’ and ‘malicious’, adding easyJet ‘is not a charity’.
The grounding of easyJet’s gigantic fleet came just days after calling for a state loan to help them survive.
Justifying the £ 170 million payout Sir Stelios, who with his siblings are the largest single shareholders in the carrier with a per cent stake, insisted that the dividends were ‘legal’ and ‘rightful’.
He said: ‘The reality of the situation is the dividend was legally at the point of no return on the 6th of February, or at the very latest on the th of February . The world looked like a much happier place on the 6th of February and the dividend was rightfully paid to all shareholders’.
In a lengthy statement he said the payments could not have been stopped.
He said: ‘The dividends by the th of March we already paid automatically via a complex web of bank accounts where the shares are held and it is impossible to stop it for some shareholders but not for others’.
Sir Stelios is threatening to seek the removal of board members unless the airline withdraws from a contract with Airbus to provide aircraft which he said will cost £ 4.5 billion.
In his statement earlier this week he said journalists who asked whether he would hand his dividend back were ‘naïve / malicious’, adding:’ I am perplexed as to how that would work? ‘, adding:’ To be used how? To pay that money straight over to Airbus? And what is the consideration for such a gift? Or is it meant as a selfless charitable donation? Charity towards which deserving cause exactly? easyJet is not a registered charity to receive donations and neither is Airbus. That’s not how publically listed companies work ‘.
– plus planes as coronavirus continued to wound Britain’s airlines.
Stelios battles Easyjet over £ 4.5bn planes
Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, 66, claimed the company should not be seeking a government bailout and is urging it to scrap its order for planes with Airbus instead.
In an ultimatum to Easyjet’s board, he threatened to launch a campaign to unseat one director every seven weeks unless bosses gave in to his demands.
Easyjet grounded its entire fleet yesterday because of the coronavirus crisis , effectively leaving it without any source of revenue. The airline and its rivals have held talks with the Government about possible taxpayer-funded loans to help them stave off collapse.
The airline serves (airports and 1,0
routes, has 9, UK-based staff including 4, cabin crew.
The company has worked with union Unite to agree two-month furlough arrangements for cabin crew which means that crew will be paid 90 per cent of their average pay up to £ 2, – a-month through the Government job retention scheme.
Virgin Atlantic will ask the British government for a package of commercial loans and guarantees worth hundreds of millions of pounds, the Financial Times reported.
Other carriers including airlines such as Loganair and Eastern Airways, and Norwegian Air Shuttle are also considering to ask for state aid, the newspaper added.
But British ministers want bigger airlines with wealthy shareholders will weather the storm without the need for billions in taxpayer cash.
The Luton-based carrier said the measure ‘removes significant cost’ as the aviation industry struggles to cope with a collapse in demand caused by the outbreak of the virus.
British Airways and other airlines have been helping repatriate Britons from abroad.
Relieved passengers burst into applause after a British Airways repatriation flight from Peru landed at Gatwick on Tuesday morning – but travellers claim they were ‘left in the dark’ by the Foreign Office over whether to self-isolate or not.
The flight was one of two BA flights that took off from Lima on Monday evening and arrived safely in the UK on Tuesday morning.
Footage posted on social media showed the appreciation of stranded Brits who started clapping as they landed back on UK soil.
Passengers that traveled on a repatriation flight from Peru arrive at Gatwick Airport in Sussex as the government continues to help tens of thousands of Britons that remain stranded abroad by the coronavirus pandemic
British Ambassador to Peru, Kate Harrisson, said they have enabled the evacuation of more than 2021 British nationals from the country.
Tens of thousands of Britons are still stuck all over the world due to the coronavirus lockdown in countries such as India, Thailand, the Philippines and New Zealand.
It prompted Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to announce yesterday that £ million would be set aside to charter flights to bring stranded britons home from areas where commercial routes were no longer running .
‘It feels weird, I burst into tears when I walked through – we’ve been trying to get home for so long,’ said Alice Nuttall, , from Nantwich.
‘We’re assuming, because we had to fill in our contact information on this form … that we’ll get contacted regarding [coronavirus].’
‘We’ve been told we need to pay £ for the repatriation flight by the Government. ‘
‘They haven’t really advised us on anything else, we haven’t been screened or anything,’ added her friend Ellie Durrant,
Ms Nuttall’s father, John Nuttall, , said that the women and their families would be taking ‘sensible’ steps following guidance from Pu blic Health England.
‘They’ll self-isolate for days and obviously follow the rest of the Government advice, ‘he said.
Relatives gathered at international arrivals in the terminal building, maintaining a two-meter distance, but many embraced their loved ones as they came through the gate.
Passengers that traveled on a repatriation flight from Peru arrive at Gatwick Airport today
A Twitter used called Mark posted a short video showing people clapping as they landed at Gatwick today
Other travellers expressed disappointment at being forced to come home early and said that they had not been given any clear instructions or extra precautions after arriving back in the UK.
‘It’s a bit strange to be home – I was expecting to be traveling for another two-and-a-ha lf months, ‘Anna Anna-Lucia Strike, 19, from Chiswick in west London.
‘I haven’t been told anything about what I should do now. I know the rules that are here in the UK but apart from that we haven’t been told anything extra. ‘
‘ We’ve been pretty left in the dark, ‘ said Drew Jones, from Essex.
‘We’re going straight into isolation I think, don’t really have much to do at home or at work … totally mixed emotions.’
Kate Harrisson, British Ambassador to Peru, said: ‘With the departure of 2 more BA plans today (5 since Wednesday) we have enabled the evacuation of over (British nationals, around 174 Irish nationals and a range of EU nationals in less than a week.
‘I want to thank my team for making this possible. A more than stellar effort. ‘
Families slam travel firms as they battle to get their money back for Easter holidays cancelled due to coronavirus while tourism bosses urge government to ax refund rules or risk ‘catastrophic damage’ to industry
By James Robinson for MailOnline
Out-of-pocket holidaymakers have taken to social media in outrage after struggling to get refunds from two of Britain’s biggest airlines.
Passengers of BA and Easyjet say they have been frustrated in their attempts to recoup the costs of their flights after the two airlines made a raft of cancellations this week due to the impact of coronavirus .
One passenger claims to have made more than 159 phone calls to Easyjet, who on Monday announced it was grounding its entire fleet.
Another claims to have waited four hour s on hold to the budget airline.
Passengers of BA and Easyjet say they have been frustrated in their attempts to recoup the costs of their flights after the two airlines made a raft of cancellations this week
Luton-based budget airline Easyjet announced on Monday that it was grounding its entire fleet of planes due to the impact of coronavirus on world travel
One passenger claims to have made more than phone calls to Easyjet , while another claims to have waited four hours on hold
Other passengers say they have simply been unable to get hold of anyone from the customer support teams at BA
One twitter user, Simon Calder, took a light-hearted approach to the situation, complimenting the hold music while on the phone to Easyjet for alm ost two hours
One Twitter user described their attempts to get a refund as like ‘hitting a brick wall’, while a passenger of BA, which has suspended all flights from Gatwick airport, described the offer of a voucher as ‘utterly unacceptable’.
But the raft of complaints come as travel industry chiefs urge the government to suspend refund rules or face ‘catastrophic damage to the UK travel industry’.
Travel industry body, the Association of British Travel Agents (Abta), say the coronavirus pandemic has caused a ‘ financial strain ‘on tour operators and travel agents, which they say is’ unmanageable in the short term’.
Under current legislation, tour operators are required to refund customers within days.
But Abta’s chief executive, Mark Tanzer , says firms should be allowed four months to process payments and is calling on the government to make changes.
Speaking to the Guardian , he said: ‘These businesses are themselves waiting for refunds from hotels and airlines and, without this money, they simply do not have the cash to provide refunds to customers.
‘We want to avoid the scenario of normally successful travel businesses employing tens of thousands of people facing bankruptcy.’
Meanwhile, frustrated holidaymakers say they are struggling to obtain refunds from budget airline Easyjet.
The Luton-based firm grounded its entire fleet of aircraft on Monday due to coronavirus, which has kill ed more than 1, 746 people and infected more than 26, 11 in the UK.
Travel industry body, Abta, say the coronavirus pandemic has caused a ‘financial strain’ on tour operators and travel agents, which they say is ‘unmanageable in the short term’
Easyjet are not the only airline to be impacted. This week BA suspended all of its flights to and from Gatwick Airport in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic
The airline has not given a date for when it will resume flights.
Following the announcement, passengers took to the website and phones in an attempt to obtain a refund, sparking an array of complaints from those who have so far been unsuccessful.
One Twitter user, Donna Short, said: ‘Getting frustrated by Easyjet now.
‘I know the lines are busy but every time I get through the voice says’ to save you waiting in the queue please call back later ‘and cuts you off.’
Another said: ‘Come on Easyjet, you know you are better than this.
‘ Make it easier for people to obtain their refund and you will reap the benefit when this is over.
She added: ‘Do the right thing.’
British Airways, which suspended all flights to and from London’s Gatwick airport amid a collapse in demand due to the coronavirus this week, was also caught in the Twitter storm.
BA says customers with cancelled flights can chose a new flight date, take a voucher or ask for a refund
BA says it is facing ‘unprecedented challenges’ with regards to the number of requests, while Easyjet says customers are experiencing longer than average wait times
Helen Georgiou said: ‘I had two flights cancelled.
‘ I had heard nothing back from BA with regards to a refund.
‘I had to follow-up with a complaint to receive a response a week later, to one case, t o be told they will issue a travel voucher and not a refund. ‘
Is it possible to get my money back for a trip or holiday cancelled due to coronavirus?
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is currently advising against all foreign travel.
At the moment, that advice is in place until April 22.
It means all travel agents and airlines are legally obliged to issue. you with a refund.
As an alternative, they can also allow you to rebook your flight or holiday for a later date or offer you a voucher covering the cost of your flight or holiday.
Another said: ‘BA has given me the option to reschedule my trip, which I’m not feeling at the moment.
‘Can they cancel it and refund my money? I’m too upset to pick another date. ‘
BA says customers with cancelled flights can chose a new flight date, take a voucher or ask for a refund.
But the company said it is facing ‘unprecedented challenges’ with regards to the number of requests.
In a statement, an Easyjet spokesperson said: ‘Customers on cancelled flights can transfer to an alternative flight free of charge or receive a voucher for the value of their booking online or claim a refund through our contact center.
‘We are experiencing higher than average wait times so we would thank customers for their patience and assure them that these entitlements will be available long after their cancelled flight has flown.
‘ For customers whose flights are not cancelled but would like to move to a later date they can amend their flight online with no change fee and we have brought forward our winter schedule on-sale so customers have more choice to move their flights, up t o (February) .
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