British Airways is set to cut up to 12,000 jobs from its 42,000-strong workforce due to a collapse in business because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The airline’s parent company, IAG, said it needed to impose a “restructuring and redundancy programme” until demand for air travel returns to 2019 levels.
The pilots’ union Balpa said it was “devastated” at the news and vowed to fight “every single” job cut.
IAG also owns Spanish airline Iberia and Ireland’s Aer Lingus.
In a statement, IAG said: “The proposals remain subject to consultation, but it is likely that they will affect most of British Airways’ employees and may result in the redundancy of up to 12,000 of them.”
The company said it will take several years for air travel to return to pre-virus levels, a warning that has been echoed by airlines across the world.
Alongside IAG’s statement, BA chief executive Alex Cruz wrote in a letter to staff: “In the last few weeks, the outlook for the aviation industry has worsened further and we must take action now. We are a strong, well-managed business that has faced into, and overcome, many crises in our hundred-year history.
“We must overcome this crisis ourselves, too. There is no government bailout standing by for BA and we cannot expect the taxpayer to offset salaries indefinitely… We will see some airlines go out of business.”