British Airways (BA) boss Alex Cruz sent a video message to his 45,000 staff this morning (13 March), warning that job losses are on the horizon as the current outbreak of Covid-19 threatens the airline's business.
The video message was titled The Survival of British Airways. In the video, Mr Cruz said, "We can no longer sustain our current level of employment and jobs would be lost - perhaps for a short term, perhaps longer term."
Worse than 9/11
The BA Chief Executive and Chairman continued by saying that the airline would "continue to do our best for customers and offer them as much flexibility as we can"
He also warned that the airline industry is facing a "crisis of global proportions" worse than SARS or the events following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks.
Owned by the International Airlines Group (IAG), British Airways was one of many airlines that has cancelled flights to Italy and China. Norwegian Air also plans to cancel 4,000 flights and lay off half of its staff due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The EU has suspended its laws on taxied planes, allowing companies to keep planes grounded as the outbreak continues. This stops companies from flying empty planes simply to maintain their position at major airports.
Worsened by Trump's travel ban
Airlines seemed to panic after US President Donald Trump announced a controversial travel ban from the EU to the USA. British Airlines, as well as UK visitors, were exempt from the ban, but it has knock on effects in the air travel industry.
BA has already cut hundreds of flights from its winter schedule and has yet to confirm which further flights will be cancelled.
Some airlines have already changed their booking policy to let passengers book with more confidence. EasyJet boldly allowed customers to rebook after a cancellation without paying up to the day of travel.