Airline bosses using coronavirus as "excuse to slash jobs", union boss says

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Airline chiefs were in the firing line today after a trade union boss accused them of over exaggerating the impact from coronavirus in order to slash jobs.

Trade union head Brian Strutton told MPs that carriers were looking to “take advantage of the crisis” by cutting unnecessary headcount.

British Airways, Ryanair and Virgin Atlantic are among the airlines that have announced plans to make thousands of staff redundant and fears are that there could be further cuts to come.

Strutton, general secretary of British Airline Pilots’ Association, told the Commons Transport Select Committee: “I believe that airlines are exaggerating the problem.

“The predictions that some of the airline leaders are saying, of up to a five or six-year recovery, is not in line with industry standard predictions.

“Last week, Iata, the International Air Transport Association – which is usually the touchstone for these things – issued its new projections, and said that by the end of 2022 we would be back to 2019 levels.”

He added: “We’re in a trough at the moment, we will be coming out of it over the next two-and-a-half years, and I think that airlines are egging the pudding too much to take advantage of the crisis to make changes and downsize their workforce unnecessarily.”

His comments come as British Airways announced over the weekend that cabin staff face a potential whopping 55% cut to their salaries.

A letter received by staff yesterday outlines plans to slash cabin crew salaries to £24,000, while senior crew would have to downgrade to basic level pay.

Most senior crew – customer service managers – are currently on around £35,000, while some crew leaders – customer service directors – can earn up to £80,000 per year.

Unions are said to have threatened legal action and staff are planning on striking.

At the same time Sir Richard Branson is still looking for investment in order to save Virgin Atlantic.

In Europe there are signs that the airline and travel industry could restart this summer. The Italian government has passed legislation that will allow people to travel abroad from 3 June.

The government hopes the new rules will salvage the forthcoming vacation season, when Italians traditionally escape the cities for their annual summer breaks abroad or at home.

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May 20, 2020 |
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