British Airways reportedly suspended 36,000 of its employees

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Jack Taylor | Getty Images News | Getty Images

British Airways is expected to cut 36,000 jobs, the BBC reported on Wednesday, although talks with the British union Unite are still underway.

The flagship airline of the United Kingdom is said to have signed an agreement with Unite which provides for the suspension of 80% of its cabin crew, engineers, ground staff and head office employees. Staff should not be fired, the news agency said. British Airways suspended all London Gatwick flights this week.

The news comes amid the worsening coronavirus crisis, which has halted the majority of passenger travel around the world and crippled the airline industry. Many large airlines have reduced operations by up to 90%, and some have immobilized their entire fleet.

Airline groups have warned that without a rescue fund, large numbers of workers are at risk of losing their jobs. The global airline industry supported some 65 million jobs last year, according to the Air Transport Action Group.

The aviation sector is one of the hardest hit, as economic activity plummets and countries are imposing home maintenance restrictions and orders in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.

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