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Coronavirus: British Airways expected to furlough 36,000 staff

Lianna Brinded
Head of Yahoo Finance UK
Grounded BA planes. (Simon Dawson/Bloomberg)

British Airways, owned by International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG.L), is expected to furlough around 36,000 staff in a bid to battle the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

BA, which has already grounded a majority of its fleet of planes, has been negotiating with the union Unite over the last week, according to the BBC.

It is expected to use the UK government’s Job Retention Scheme to pay for up to 80% of wages, capped at £2,500 ($3,071) a month.

A BA spokesperson told Yahoo Finance UK that “talks continue” with unions.

Read more: Lufthansa to put 87,000 staff on part-time hours

The plans are said to mostly affect staff at Gatwick and London City Airport. On 31 March, BA said it would be temporarily suspending flights from Gatwick — Britain's second busiest airport, due to the coronavirus.

"Due to the considerable restrictions and challenging market environment, like many other airlines, we will temporarily suspend our flying schedule at Gatwick," a BA spokesman said at the time.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA), an aviation industry trade group, said that airlines could lose between $63bn (£50bn) and $113bn in revenues as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Read more: Coronavirus: One in four businesses plan layoffs and half plan to furlough

A number of airlines have already collapsed or are seeking state aid amid the spread of COVID-19. For example, Flybe was pushed into administration, immediately grounding all of the airline’s flights and putting around 2,400 jobs at risk. Even major international carriers, such as Virgin Atlantic are seeking state help.

The British Chamber of Commerce (BCC) and the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) both issued warnings on Thursday, saying millions of people could be fired or furloughed as COVID-19 brings the economy to a halt.

Both the CIPD and BCC also found many businesses plan to use the government’s Job Retention Scheme, which allows employers to furlough staff and have the state pay 80% of their wages.

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