By Benjamin Katz

 

LONDON--British Airways has started the process of laying off more than a quarter of its staff as the carrier prepares itself for a lack of demand from the new coronavirus pandemic that it expects to last for several years.

The airline has informed its unions of plans to make reductions of as many as 12,000 of its 45,000 employees, the carrier said in a statement on Tuesday. The airline has previously furloughed more than 22,000 staff, taking advantage of a government aid plan.

The airline's parent company, International Consolidated Airlines Group SA, also said Tuesday that it had posted an operating loss of 535 million euros ($579 million) in the first three months of the year, compared to a profit of EUR135 million last year. Losses next quarter will be "significantly worse," it said.

In addition to the staff cuts, British Airways is renegotiating contracts with its suppliers, including reassessing its current and future fleet plan, Chief Executive Alex Cruz said in a letter to staff. The executive added that no government bailout is "standing by."

"Yesterday, British Airways flew just a handful of aircraft out of Heathrow. On a normal day we would fly more than 300," Mr. Cruz said to staff. "Our very limited flying schedule means that revenues are not coming into our business."

 

Write to Benjamin Katz at benjamin.katz@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

April 28, 2020 13:49 ET (17:49 GMT)

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