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British Airways 'to suspend 36,000 staff days after grounding ALL flights to and from Gatwick due to coronavirus'

British Airways 'to suspend 36,000 staff days after grounding ALL flights to and from Gatwick due to coronavirus'
  • The airline has reached a deal with Unite union to suspend 80 per cent of staff 
  • No staff are expected to be made redundant as a result of the deal, however
  • Comes after the airline on Tuesday axed all flights to and from Gatwick Airport 
  • British Airways has also ceased all of its operations from London City Airport
  • Staff affected are expected to receive some of their wages from the government
  • Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?
British Airways is today expected to announce it will suspend around 36,000 of its 45,000 staff because of the coronavirus crisis 
The airline has reached a broad deal with the Unite union that will include the suspension of 80 per cent of its cabin crew, ground staff, engineers and those working at head office.
Crucially however, no staff are expected to be made redundant as a result of the deal, which came after ten days of intense talks, according to the BBC. 
Furloughed staff are expected to receive some of their wages through the government job retention scheme - which offers 80 per cent of someone's average pay up to £2,500-a-month. 
It came 48 hours after BA axed all its flights to and from Gatwick Airport as coronavirus continues to strangle the aviation industry - with BA expected flying from Heathrow Terminal 5 with a severely reduced schedule.
The airline, has already mothballed many planes across its UK bases including London City Airport last week and Gatwick this week, cancelling thousands of flights.
The company has been inundated with refund requests but they are taking two weeks to process, sparking fury among customers who also claim that BA is trying to offer them vouchers instead of their cash back.
One tweeted today: 'Their customer service is non existent and are trying to hold onto the money that their customers work so hard for! This is a global pandemic that is affecting everyone. It’s been 3 weeks. That’s 21 days. I am in need of a refund not a voucher for another flight'.   
Rebecca Eichler also took to social media and said: 'My flight was cancelled and you have offered a full refund, which is only available by calling, but you are not accepting calls. Please change your website to allow for refunds in addition to vouchers, or help me process my refund. Thank you!'British Airways planes have been left parked at Bournemouth Airport after the airline suffered a massive fall in demand due to the coronavirus crisis
British Airways planes have been left parked at Bournemouth Airport after the airline suffered a massive fall in demand due to the coronavirus crisis 
The British Airways check-in area is seen empty at Gatwick airport, as the spread of the coronavirus disease continues
The British Airways check-in area is seen empty at Gatwick airport, as the spread of the coronavirus disease continuesTwo weeks ago British Airways admitted coronavirus is threatening its very survival as staff were told there will be job cuts and aircrafts must be mothballed because of the 'worsening' worldwide pandemic (Alex Cruz, chairman and CEO of British Airways, poses for a photograph with British Airways staff last year)
Two weeks ago British Airways admitted coronavirus is threatening its very survival as staff were told there will be job cuts and aircrafts must be mothballed because of the 'worsening' worldwide pandemic (Alex Cruz, chairman and CEO of British Airways, poses for a photograph with British Airways staff last year)
It is also among the airlines helping repatriate Britons stuck abroad following Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab's pledge to set aside £75 million to help get people home.
The decision by BA to shut its Gatwick operation came hours after easyJet grounded its entire fleet of 330 aircraft and became the first UK airline to stop all its operations. 
On Wednesday, Gatwick's North Terminal shut with the South Terminal operating from 2pm and 10pm to cut costs, meaning most of the airport's staff will be furloughed. Those not furloughed, such as call centre staff and those involved in live operations, will remain on full pay following the talks. 
A source told The Sun: 'Negotiations have been tough but there is an acknowledgement at BA and the union that these are unprecedented times.' 
The agreement has yet to be fully signed off but it is thought this will happen early on Thursday morning. A spokesman for the airline told MailOnline: 'Talks continue.'
With future bookings cancelled for the time being, airlines such as British Airways have been losing vast sums of money. 
A British Airways spokesman declined to say how many of its workers' jobs are under threat when asked earlier this week, but said: 'Due to the considerable restrictions and challenging market environment, like many other airlines we will temporarily suspend our flying schedule at Gatwick. We are contacting affected customers to discuss their options.'
Two weeks ago British Airways admitted coronavirus is threatening its very survival as staff were told there will be job cuts and aircrafts must be mothballed because of the 'worsening' worldwide pandemic.
Chief Executive Alex Cruz  wrote to all 45,000 workers saying the virus' relentless spread is a crisis 'of global proportions like no other we have known', more serious than the 2008 financial crash, SARS or 9/11.
But chief executive of its parent company IAG, Willie Walsh, has also stressed that he had not requested a government bail-out and insisted IAG was 'resilient with a strong balance sheet', adding there is 'no guarantee that many European airlines would survive'.

WHAT IS THE GOVERNMENT'S CORONAVIRUS JOB RETENTION SCHEME? 

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is a temporary scheme open to all UK employers for at least three months. It is designed to support employers whose operations have been severely affected by coronavirus (COVID-19).
Employers can use a portal to claim for 80 per cent of furloughed employees' usual monthly wage costs, up to £2,500 a month. Employers can use this scheme anytime during this period.
The scheme is open to all UK employers that had created and started a PAYE payroll scheme on February 28, 2020.
To be eligible for the subsidy, when on furlough, an employee can not undertake work for or on behalf of the organisation. This includes providing services or generating revenue. 
While on furlough, the employee's wage will be subject to usual income tax and other deductions. 
British Airways planes are parked up in a row at Gatwick Airport. On Tuesday, the airline axed all its flights to and from Gatwick Airport as COVID-19 continues to strangle the aviation industry
British Airways planes are parked up in a row at Gatwick Airport. On Tuesday, the airline axed all its flights to and from Gatwick Airport as COVID-19 continues to strangle the aviation industry
BA is one of many that are to stop serving the UK's second busiest airport due to the collapse in demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The airline will keep equipment for essential functions at the airport, such as maintenance, towing and cleaning, to enable it to restart operations quickly.
Just 33 flights were due to take off or land at the West Sussex airport on Tuesday, according to aviation data provider FlightStats.
From Wednesday, Gatwick's runway was only open for scheduled flights between 2pm and 10pm.
The airport also closed one of its two terminals.The measures will be in place for a minimum of one month.
Airports are responding to the decision by airlines to suspend the majority of their flights due to demand plummeting and countries around the world introducing travel restrictions in a bid to slow the spread of coronavirus.
London City Airport closed its runway to all commercial and private flights last week while Southend Airport is only open on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays between 4.30pm and 9.30pm. 
IAG recently announced three-quarters of flights will be cut over the next two months also said it was 'taking actions to reduce operating expenses and improve cash flow'.
These include temporarily suspending employment contracts, reducing working hours and offering staff unpaid leave.
The group, which also owns Iberia and Vueling, employs 66,000 staff.
Airlines are in the process of temporarily laying off tens of thousands of staff without pay.
Amid warnings of an industry collapse within weeks, BA-owner IAG, EasyJet, Ryanair and Norwegian all revealed drastic plans to slash costs and ground flights.
Virgin Atlantic said staff had agreed to take eight weeks of unpaid leave over the next three months, with the salary docked from workers' pay over six months so their income does not dry up.
All 10,000 employees of the company, founded and controlled by Richard Branson, will also be offered voluntary redundancy. 
In a sign of the scale of the coronavirus crisis, the airlines have been backed by the union Unite and pilots association Balpa. 
The most extreme measures were taken by Norwegian, which is the third largest airline at Gatwick. It is temporarily laying off around 7,300 staff – 90 per cent of its workforce.
The airline which is saddled with debt, has lost more than 80 per cent of its market value since the start of the year. 
EasyJet's founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou yesterday justified the decision to pay a £174million dividend to shareholders including around £60million to his family just ten days before it grounded all its 330 planes.

How coronavirus has affected airlines in the UK over the past month

Flybe: Europe's largest regional airline collapsed on March 5 after months on the brink, triggering 2,400 job losses and left around 15,000 passengers stranded across the UK and Europe. Flybe's owners, a consortium including Virgin Atlantic, the Stobart Group and hedge fund firm Cyrus Capital, blamed coronavirus for hastening the ailing airline's collapse. Flybe operated up to 50 UK routes, accounting for 40 per cent of all domestic flights, and was used by 9.5million passengers a year.
British Airways: The International Airlines Group, which also includes Iberia and Aer Lingus, said on March 16 that there would be a 75 per cent reduction in passenger capacity for two months, with boss Willie Walsh admitting there was 'no guarantee that many European airlines would survive'.
easyJet: The airline with 9,000 UK-based staff including 4,000 cabin crew grounds its entire fleet of 344 planes on March 30. The Luton-based carrier said parking all of its planes 'removes significant cost' as the aviation industry struggles to cope with a collapse in demand.
Loganair: The Scottish regional airline said on March 30 that it expects to ask the Government for a bailout to cope with the impact of the pandemic. Loganair will go to the government despite being told by Finance Minister Rishi Sunak last week that airlines should exhaust all other options for funding, before asking for help.
Jet2: The budget holiday airline has suspended all of its flights departing from Britain until April 30. A number of Jet2 flights turned around mid-air earlier this month while travelling to Spain when a lockdown was announced in the country.
Virgin Atlantic: The airline said on March 16 that it would have reduced its lights by 80 per cent by March 26, and this will go up to 85 per cent by April. It has also urged the Government to offer carriers emergency credit facilities worth up to £7.5billion.
Ryanair: More than 90 per cent of the Irish-based airline's planes are now grounded, with the rest of the aircraft providing repatriation and rescue flights.
The billionaire founder of easyJet Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou (pictured in Monaco where he lives) was on a £60million dividend from the ailing business  ten says ago. It grounded all its planes on Tuesday and furloughed staff
The billionaire founder of easyJet Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou (pictured in Monaco where he lives) was on a £60million dividend from the ailing business  ten says ago. It grounded all its planes on Tuesday and furloughed staff
The Luton-based airline employs 9,000 staff and is the first in the UK to stop all flights and mothball all jets since the coronavirus pandemic took hold in Britain.
Sir Stelios said the now-controversial dividends were agreed in February when 'the world looked like a much happier place' and the cash was 'automatically' paid to shareholders on March 20 and were 'impossible to stop'.
In an extraordinary statement the billionaire also said calls for him to give the money back were 'naïve' and 'malicious', adding easyJet 'is not a charity'. 
The grounding of easyJet's gigantic fleet came just days after calling for a state loan to help them survive.
Justifying the £170million payout Sir Stelios, who with his siblings are the largest single shareholders in the carrier with a 34 per cent stake, insisted that the dividends were 'legal' and 'rightful'.  
He said: 'The reality of the situation is the dividend was legally at the point of no return on the 6th of February, or at the very latest on the 27th of February 2020. The world looked like a much happier place on the 6th of February and the dividend was rightfully paid to all shareholders'. 
In a lengthy statement he said the payments could not have been stopped.
He said: 'The dividends by the 20th of March we already paid automatically via a complex web of bank accounts where the shares are held and it is impossible to stop it for some shareholders but not for others'.
Sir Stelios is threatening to seek the removal of board members unless the airline withdraws from a contract with Airbus to provide 107 aircraft which he said will cost £4.5 billion. 
In his statement earlier this week he said journalists who asked whether he would hand his dividend back were 'naïve/malicious', adding: 'I am perplexed as to how that would work?', adding: 'To be used how? To pay that money straight over to Airbus? And what is the consideration for such a gift? Or is it meant as a selfless charitable donation? Charity towards which deserving cause exactly? easyJet is not a registered charity to receive donations and neither is Airbus. That's not how publically listed companies work'. 

Why are flights still landing in Britain from coronavirus hotspots including Italy, the US and Spain?

Flights are still landing in Britain from coronavirus hotspots including Italy, the US and Spain.
Passengers landed at London Heathrow this morning on planes from the likes of Rome on Alitalia, New York on United Airlines and Madrid on Iberia.
Flights from America also brought passengers into London earlier this week from other US cities including Atlanta and Boston on British Airways, and Dallas on American Airlines.
While passengers arriving on flights from affected countries are asked to self-isolate for 14 days, there are no means of enforcing this and no health checks are being carried out at UK airports.
There is a split in the Cabinet other whether UK borders should be closed to stop people arriving from virus hotspots.
Home Secretary Priti Patel wants to stop passengers being able to fly in to the UK from countries with high levels of infections such as Iran, the US and China.
Mrs Patel believes flights from virus hotspots should not be allowed when the country is on lockdown to prevent its spread.
The lack of a travel ban in the UK is in stark contrast to policies in the EU and the US which have closed their borders to travellers from many other countries.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab want to keep the borders open, in part to allow stranded Britons to return home
EasyJet planes are seen grounded at Edinburgh Airport this morning as all its 1,000-plus routes closed for at least two months
EasyJet grounded its entire fleet of 330-plus planes as coronavirus continued to wound Britain's airlines.  
The airline serves 159 airports and 1,051 routes, has 9,000 UK-based staff including 4,000 cabin crew. 
The company has worked with union Unite to agree two-month furlough arrangements for cabin crew which means that crew will be paid 80 per cent of their average pay up to £2,500-a-month through the Government job retention scheme.  
Virgin Atlantic will ask the British government for a package of commercial loans and guarantees worth hundreds of millions of pounds, the Financial Times reported.
Other carriers including airlines such as Loganair and Eastern Airways, and Norwegian Air Shuttle are also considering to ask for state aid, the newspaper added.
But British ministers want bigger airlines with wealthy shareholders will weather the storm without the need for billions in taxpayer cash. 
The Luton-based carrier said the measure 'removes significant cost' as the aviation industry struggles to cope with a collapse in demand caused by the outbreak of the virus. 
British Airways and other airlines have been helping repatriate Britons from abroad.
Relieved passengers burst into applause after a British Airways repatriation flight from Peru landed at Gatwick on Tuesday morning - but travellers claim they were 'left in the dark' by the Foreign Office over whether to self-isolate or not.
The flight was one of two BA flights that took off from Lima on Monday evening and arrived safely in the UK on Tuesday morning.
Footage posted on social media showed the appreciation of stranded Brits who started clapping as they landed back on UK soil.  

Stelios battles Easyjet over £4.5bn planes 

Easyjet's founder has gone to war with the struggling airline over its plans to spend £4.5bn on aircraft.
Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, 53, claimed the company should not be seeking a government bailout and is urging it to scrap its order for planes with Airbus instead.
In an ultimatum to Easyjet's board, he threatened to launch a campaign to unseat one director every seven weeks unless bosses gave in to his demands.
Easyjet grounded its entire fleet yesterday because of the coronavirus crisis, effectively leaving it without any source of revenue. The airline and its rivals have held talks with the Government about possible taxpayer-funded loans to help them stave off collapse.
Passengers that travelled on a repatriation flight from Peru arrive at Gatwick Airport in Sussex as the government continues to help tens of thousands of Britons that remain stranded abroad by the coronavirus pandemic
Passengers that travelled on a repatriation flight from Peru arrive at Gatwick Airport in Sussex as the government continues to help tens of thousands of Britons that remain stranded abroad by the coronavirus pandemic
British Ambassador to Peru, Kate Harrisson, said they have enabled the evacuation of more than 1000 British nationals from the country.
British Ambassador to Peru, Kate Harrisson, said they have enabled the evacuation of more than 1000 British nationals from the country.
Tens of thousands of Britons are still stuck all over the world due to the coronavirus lockdown in countries such as  India, Thailand, the Philippines and New Zealand.
It prompted Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to announce yesterday that £75 million would be set aside to charter flights to bring stranded Britons home from areas where commercial routes were no longer running. 
'It feels weird, I burst into tears when I walked through - we've been trying to get home for so long,' said Alice Nuttall, 21, from Nantwich.
'We're assuming, because we had to fill in our contact information on this form... that we'll get contacted regarding [coronavirus].'
'We've been told we need to pay £250 for the repatriation flight by the Government.'
'They haven't really advised us on anything else, we haven't been screened or anything,' added her friend Ellie Durrant, 22.
Ms Nuttall's father John Nuttall, 56, said that the women and their families would be taking 'sensible' steps following guidance from Public Health England.
'They'll self-isolate for 14 days and obviously follow the rest of the Government advice,' he said.
Relatives gathered at international arrivals in the terminal building, maintaining a two-metre distance, but many embraced their loved ones as they came through the gate.
Passengers that travelled on a repatriation flight from Peru arrive at Gatwick Airport today
Passengers that travelled on a repatriation flight from Peru arrive at Gatwick Airport today
A Twitter used called Mark posted a short video showing people clapping as they landed at Gatwick today
Other travellers expressed disappointment at being forced to come home early and said that they had not been given any clear instructions or extra precautions after arriving back in the UK.
'It's a bit strange to be home - I was expecting to be travelling for another two-and-a-half months,' said Anna-Lucia Strike, 18, from Chiswick in west London.
'I haven't been told anything about what I should do now. I know the rules that are here in the UK but apart from that we haven't been told anything extra.'
'We've been pretty left in the dark,' said Drew Jones, 27, from Essex.
'We're going straight into isolation I think, don't really have much to do at home or at work... totally mixed emotions.'
Kate Harrisson, British Ambassador to Peru, said: 'With the departure of 2 more BA planes today (5 since Wednesday) we have enabled the evacuation of over 1000 British nationals, around 160 Irish nationals and a range of EU nationals in less than a week.
'I want to thank my team for making this possible. A more than stellar effort.' 

Families slam travel firms as they battle to get their money back for Easter holidays cancelled due to coronavirus while tourism bosses urge government to axe refund rules or risk 'catastrophic damage' to industry

Out-of-pocket holidaymakers have taken to social media in outrage after struggling to get refunds from two of Britain's biggest airlines.
Passengers of BA and Easyjet say they have been frustrated in their attempts to recoup the costs of their flights after the two airlines made a raft of cancellations this week due to the impact of coronavirus.
One passenger claims to have made more than 100 phone calls to Easyjet, who on Monday announced it was grounding its entire fleet.
Another claims to have waited four hours on hold to the budget airline.
Passengers of BA and Easyjet say they have been frustrated in their attempts to recoup the costs of their flights after the two airlines made a raft of cancellations this week
Luton-based budget airline Easyjet announced on Monday that it was grounding its entire fleet of planes due to the impact of coronavirus on world travel

Luton-based budget airline Easyjet announced on Monday that it was grounding its entire fleet of planes due to the impact of coronavirus on world travel

One passenger claims to have made more than 100 phone calls to Easyjet, while another claims to have waited four hours on hold

One twitter user, Simon Calder, took a light-hearted approach to the situation, complimenting the hold music while on the phone to Easyjet for almost two hours
One twitter user, Simon Calder, took a light-hearted approach to the situation, complimenting the hold music while on the phone to Easyjet for almost two hours
One Twitter user described their attempts to get a refund as like 'hitting a brick wall', while a passenger of BA, which has suspended all flights from Gatwick airport, described the offer of a voucher as 'utterly unacceptable'.
But the raft of complaints come as travel industry chiefs urge the government to suspend refund rules or face 'catastrophic damage to the UK travel industry'.
Travel industry body, the Association of British Travel Agents (Abta), say the coronavirus pandemic has caused a 'financial strain' on tour operators and travel agents, which they say is 'unmanageable in the short term'. 
Under current legislation, tour operators are required to refund customers within 14 days.
But Abta's chief executive, Mark Tanzer, says firms should be allowed four months to process payments and is calling on the government to make changes.

'We'll get through thi
s' says 
Easy Jet crew on repatriation flight


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