Flights: Air travel set to regress back to the ‘1980s’ as British Airways wipes out staff

British Airways owners IAG announced on Tuesday that they would be making devastating cuts to the airline’s staff amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis. With the company deciding to permanently let go of around 12,000 of its 42,000-strong workforce, staffing figures are set to be lower than in 1983, and some are concerned the golden years are officially over for travel.

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The move, which has been deemed a “heartless” by Unite union bosses, will see the number of employed workers plummet lower than 37,000 – the number of staff it had in 1983 according to Forbes.

Although many airlines across the industry have opted to work with the government throughout June to provide furlough pay to their staff, including easyJet, British Airways have reportedly denied further support in favour of slashing jobs.

In a letter to staff, IAG owner Alex Cruz said: “There is no government bailout standing by for BA and we cannot expect the taxpayer to offset salaries indefinitely.

“Any money we borrow now will only be short-term and will not address the longer-term challenged we face.”

He added, however, that the job losses will help the airline“overcome this crisis ourselves.”

Len McCluskey, general secretary of the Unite union, said felt like a “stab in the back” to its dedicated workforce.

Particularly for those who had continued to fly amid the crisis, something Mr McCluskey said was done both “heroically and unnoticed”.

Brian Strutton, general secretary of pilots’ union Balpa, added that pilots were “devastated” by the sudden decision.

“This has come as a bolt out of the blue from an airline that said it was wealthy enough to weather the COVID storm and declined any government support,” he said.

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Yahoo reports that Labour’s shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon warned aviation workers were key to the UK economy, and should not be laid off by leaders “who have reaped the rewards from their hard work.”

Yet with less staff, most notably crew, taking to the skies once the pandemic is over, are the golden years of service over for British Airways?

Express.co.uk contacted British Airways and put this question to them, however, the airline was unable to comment on how service might change in the future.

IAG bosses have announced a new plan to restructure its fleets, ridding thousands of jobs during a time of financial crisis.

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“We are working closely with partners and suppliers to discuss repayment terms; we are re-negotiating contracts where possible, and we are considering all the options for our current and future aircraft fleet,” Mr Cruz continued in his letter.

According to the IATA, the industry has “never seen a downturn this deep before”.

Experts predict the full-year industry passenger revenues could plummet by 55 percent compared to 2019, traffic could fall to 48 percent.

Mr Cruz added that it is likely we can expect fewer planes in the sky in the coming years.

“Many airlines have grounded all of their planes,” he said.

“Sadly, we will see some airlines go out of business with the resulting job losses.”

British Airways told Express.co.uk that they are now entering into a “consultation period” with IAG, staff and unions, and unable to give any further insight into what changes are to come at this time.

It is not yet known when the travel industry will resume to its former glory, or if air travel will ever be the same again.

Borders across the world remain closed, and airlines including Ryanair, easyJet and Jet2 continue to ground the majority of their fleets.

In a bid to generate revenue, Virgin Atlantic turned to the government for potential support.

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