MIAMI – British Airways (BA) is set to suspend routes, park aircraft and cut jobs in an unprecedented threefold move by the airline in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The news comes today from a video message by Alex Cruz, Chief Executive and Chairman of British Airways, to all BA staff.

The CEO warned his colleagues not to underestimate the seriousness of the situation for the company, emphasizing that the impact of the coronavirus COVID-19 on the global economy and, in particular, on the aviation industry, has worsened significantly in just a week’s time.

Comparing the current public health emergency to the global financial crisis, the SARS’s outbreak, and 9/11, Cruz also warned that the epidemic was more serious than any of those events, describing it as “a crisis of global proportions like no other we have known.”

Dire consequences for the industry and BA business alike

Industry wise, The CEO mentioned the report published last week by IATA showing the gravity of the situation global aviation has to face, citing how all airlines have taken radical steps in response the COVID-19.

“Airlines with a weak balance sheet, or carrying large debts, are facing a dire future,” said Cruz.

Business wise, while reassuring BA’s staff that the airline is financially robust, Cruz went on to outline the current state of the COVID-19 fallout, which BA and airlines as a whole must grapple with:

  • Government travel bans in Asia, Italy and now in the USA, India, Kuwait – with more likely to come.
  • Major corporate clients curtailing or suspending business travel for their employees
  • Slumping of leisure travel
  • Canceling of conferences and international events
  • Low overall consumer confidence

BA’s unsustainable current level of employment

Finally, the CEO had to inform BS staff the inevitable:

“We are taking decisive steps to protect our cash position and to protect jobs. To be frank, given the challenging circumstances, we can no longer sustain our current level of employment and jobs will be lost – perhaps for a short period, perhaps longer term. We are in active and constructive discussion with your trade unions to mitigate the impact as best we can.”