British Airways’ chief executive and the boss of parent group IAG have hit back at UK politicians who criticised the airline for its treatment of staff while cutting thousands of job and branded the carrier as ‘a national disgrace’.
Alex Cruz said in a video circulated among BA’s staff on Sunday that the claims made by the committee of politicians were “not based on facts” and “fail to grasp the economics of the airline industry”.
British Airways is expected to make up to 12,000 employees redundant as part of measures to reduce costs amid the air travel disaster caused by international border restrictions relating to Covid-19. BA has some 22,000 staff members on furlough.
“I am angered on your behalf that so much anxiety has been caused by outsiders, who do not really care about British Airways, telling you that everything is over,” Cruz told staff.
"I have never said that jobs will not be lost, but we will not reach the point of redundancies until we have exhausted every option to save as many jobs as possible."
Cruz asked the UK Parliament to work with the airline industry to “save it” rather than single out BA.
“Right now, British Airways is burning around 20 million pounds every day… Do not be fooled into thinking our cash reserves or IAG’s [BA’s owner] cash reserves will see us through.
“We have taken on hundreds of millions of pounds of new debt, much of which must be repaid in the short-term… we have mortgaged dozens of our aircraft, we have even been selling the art from our lounge walls in our effort to raise funds.”
Cruz said that BA is retiring entire fleets and must “redesign the business” so it can compete in a post-Covid world. He said that things will get worse before they get better.
Meanwhile, IAG chief executive Willie Walsh, who is one of the most experienced executives in the airline industry, wrote to the Parliamentary committee saying: “British Airways is fighting for its survival, in the face of overwhelming and unprecedented challenges, while respecting the fundamental British value of the rule of law. This is not a disgrace."
“We will continue to do everything in our power to ensure that British Airways can survive and sustain the maximum number of jobs consistent with the new reality of a changed airline industry in a severely weakened national and global economy,” Walsh added.