British Airways ‘to suspend tens of thousands of employees’

British Airways will suspend 36,000 workers as the coronavirus pandemic grounds most of its flights, it is expected to announce.

The airline has been negotiating with the Unite union for more than a week amid travel restrictions, the BBC reported. 

An agreement, which has yet to be fully signed off, will see up to 80pc of engineers, head office, cabin crew and ground staff furloughed. No employees are expected to be made redundant.

British Airways stopped all flights out of Gatwick Airport on Wednesday, becoming the latest carrier to stop serving the UK’s second-busiest airport due to collapsing demand.

It is no longer flying from London’s City airport.

Furloughed British Airways staff will receive the government’s relief fund of 80pc of their salary, capped at a maximum of £2,500 a month. Unite had reportedly been pushing for staff to be paid more. 

Its pilots are expected to take a 50pc pay cut over two months. 

The airline industry has been thrown into turmoil after bookings came to a halt and coronavirus refunds eat into cash reserves. 

The International Transport Association predicts that airlines will suffer losses of $40bn (£32.3bn). 

Virgin Atlantic has suspended a number of jobs for two months and crews at Easyjet, which has grounded all flights, have been put on hold for three months. 

Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic is looking for a bailout from the Government worth hundreds of millions of pounds. It is looking for commercial loans and guarantees as it battles the crisis.

Major airlines have been criticised for withholding cash refunds from customers who have had their flights cancelled because of the virus. 

Easyjet has removed the option on their website to receive a refund. Virgin Atlantic, Easyjet and British Airways state that customers must call the company to receive a refund, however many customers have complained of long wait times and delays to receive the money of up to 90 days.