The airline appears to have backed down from plans announced in April to make 12,000 people redundant, making up nearly 30% of its workforce.
MPs branded the company a ‘national disgrace’ over the proposal, accusing it in a report of a ‘calculated attempt to take advantage of the pandemic to cut jobs and weaken the terms and conditions of its remaining employees’.
Appearing before the Commons’ Transport Select Committee today, Chief Executive Alex Cruz revealed today that 7,200 people have already left the company.
He said: ‘As CEO of British Airways, I have to take responsibility. I cannot ignore the situation. I had to act incredibly fast.
‘I deeply, deeply regret that way too many loyal and hardworking colleagues of mine are having to leave our business, and I understand why MPs are concerned.’
He said he had a had ‘very difficult and yet very constructive’ meetings with pilots’ union Balpa, which ended with an agreement on a package of job and pay cuts aimed at reducing the number of redundancies.
Mr Cruz added: ‘This is an impossible situation. We’re having to make incredibly difficult decisions as a consequence of this pandemic and it is really only because of Covid-19 that we have had to go through such deep restructuring.
‘I have to make these difficult decisions at this time but I am completely dedicated and focused on protecting those nearly 30,000 jobs of those British Airways colleagues that will remain within the business.’
Mr Cruz stressed told MPs that ‘people need to get flying again’ if the airline is to survive the ‘worst crisis in its 100 years of history’.
Last week British Airways flew only 187,000 passengers, compared to nearly a million during the same period last year.
As it continues to operate 25 to 30% of its usual flights, the airline is blowing around £20million per day.
Mr Cruz said BA ended up with £2.6billion in cash last year, which was whittled down to £2.1billion by the end of June.
He told MPs the firm had also paid out 2.1million refunds and 1.6million vouchers to customers.
The CEO revealed he has taken a 33.3% pay cut compared to 25% for members of his top team.
He said that last year he made £805,000, including salary, benefits and pensions. Mr Cruz added: ‘The main focus at the moment is to survive.
‘We must make it through, then we must be able to compete effectively and make it through the recovery cycle… people need to get flying again.
‘People are still afraid of travelling. Of course, we are having weekly changes, as you know, to the quarantine list.
‘We don’t have a testing solution yet. And still our customers are paying APD (air passenger duty) even just to fly on domestic regional flights.
‘So the overall situation is quite challenging, and this is why we are taking every measure possible to make sure that we can actually make it through this winter.’
Mr Cruz called on the Government to focus on adding individual regions to its travel quarantine list, providing greater flexibility and options to travellers.
He said putting into place a sufficient coronavirus testing regime in airports was ‘incredibly important’ in order to ‘reduce that quarantine time to the minimum possible’.
The CEO added: ‘We are making a suggestion that we actually run a test between London and New York, so we can give authorities on both sides of the Atlantic an opportunity to test different ways in which a particular testing regime would actually work.
‘This is imperative, so that we can drive the confidence of travellers so we can get business going again.’ ‘We’re sitting here, we’re ready to go.
We need some testing regime that will minimise the quarantine process so again we can get people travelling.
‘With the current quarantine process of two weeks, unfortunately we are not having sufficient travellers wanting to do either business or wanting to go on holiday.’