A “NATIONAL disgrace” – that’s how MPs rate British Airways’ treatment of its staff during the coronavirus pandemic.

The company says it has to slash up to 12,000 jobs to cope with the loss of business.

In a report released today, the Commons Transport Select Committee has accused the airline of a “calculated attempt to take advantage” of the crisis by making redundancies and downgrading the terms and conditions of the bulk of its remaining employees.

Other aviation companies have also announced thousands of redundancies, including easyJet, Ryanair, Virgin Atlantic, Rolls-Royce and Airbus.

The cross-party committee of MPs acknowledged that job losses in the sector “may sadly be inevitable” due to the huge reduction in air travel as a result of Covid-19.

But it found that BA had received almost £35 million from the UK Government as of May 14 by furloughing 22,000 staff. It noted that at the end of 2019 the carrier recorded after-tax profits of

£1.1 billion and cash reserves of £2.6bn. And it urged UK-based employers not to “proceed hastily” by making large numbers of people redundant while the Government’s furlough scheme is in place.

It said: “The behaviour of British Airways and its parent company towards its employees is a national disgrace.

“It falls well below the standards we would expect from any employer, especially in light of the scale of taxpayer subsidy, at this time of national crisis.”

The carrier insists it is doing everything it can to “sustain the maximum number of jobs”.

But unions told the committee BA is operating a “fire and rehire” approach by giving redundancy notices to most of its 42,000 workers with the intention of offering jobs to a proportion of them under worse terms and conditions.

That is in addition to up to 12,000 job losses. The minimum 45-day consultation period for some workers ends on Monday.

BA has had discussions with pilots’ union Balpa, including over the possibility of voluntary redundancies.

But the other two main unions representing its workers – Unite and GMB – are not engaging in talks. Committee chair Huw Merriman MP said: “This wanton destruction of a loyal workforce cannot appear to go without sanction by government, parliamentarians or paying passengers who may choose differently in future. We view it as a national disgrace.”

However, BA said: “We find ourselves in the deepest crisis

ever faced by the airline


“We will do everything in our power to ensure that British Airways can survive and sustain the maximum number of jobs.”