The British Airways chief executive, Alex Cruz, told staff coronavirus was ‘a crisis of global proportions like no other we have known’. Photograph: Steve Parsons/PA
British Airways has warned staff it is in a fight for survival and expects to make job cuts and ground an unprecedented number of planes, as it said the coronavirus pandemic has caused a crisis “worse than 9/11” for the airline industry.
BA’s chief executive, Alex Cruz, said in a message to 45,000 employees entitled “The Survival of British Airways” that the airline would be “parking aircraft in a way we never have before” after the drop in demand was compounded by the shock US travel ban from Europe announced on Wednesday night. It came as the German media reported that the country’s flagship carrier, Lufthansa, might ground most of its fleet and ask for state aid in the wake of Donald Trump’s surprise move.
Although BA and UK visitors were exempted from the US ban, about a quarter of passengers from Heathrow are in transit from countries in the Schengen passport-free zone and the move will have further deterred potential travellers on BA’s most lucrative transatlantic routes.
Cruz told BA’s staff that coronavirus was “a crisis of global proportions like no other we have known”, in the message– seen by the Reuters.
He warned staff that layoffs were coming, “perhaps for a short period, perhaps longer term”. The company is in discussions with trade unions to shore up its cash position and try to protect jobs.
He added: “Please do not underestimate the seriousness of this for our company.”