British Airways will suspend all flights from Gatwick Airport and put “many more” staff on leave as the new Covid lockdown bites.
In a letter to staff seen by Sky News, the airline warned it would mean “moving many more colleagues, from operational and support functional areas, to the government’s expanded job retention program.”
BA, whose owner suffered a loss of £ 5.1bn in the first nine months of 2020, called it ‘a blow to our hopes for the winter season’.
This is the second time the airline has blocked all flights at Gatwick, with the previous suspension coming shortly after the first nationwide lockdown in March.
Gatwick Airport this time last year, left; and today in the middle of the pandemic it’s true
“We made the difficult decision to further scale down our operations for the remainder of November. BA management said in their letter.
“This means a lot fewer flights than we expected in November and means getting more of our planes on the ground, including shutting down all flights from Gatwick until December.
Under new restrictions introduced in England on Thursday, overseas travel is only allowed for specific purposes such as work and study for the next four weeks.
Photos of Gatwick today revealed a sorry terminal under the new lockdown rules.
BA will continue to benefit from Rishi Sunak’s leave program after the Chancellor today announced another generous extension until the end of March.
The taxpayer cedes 80 percent of employees’ wages up to a cap of £ 2,500 under the plan, with employers only grappling with national insurance and pension costs.
In its letter, BA told staff it would focus on “crucial air links: bringing home the thousands of customers currently overseas, transporting vital goods and securing those authorized to enter and leave the Kingdom. United for work, education and other stipulated reasons. by the British government can continue to do so.
BA’s parent company IAG last Friday reported a loss of £ 5.1 billion in the first nine months of this year.
IAG CEO Luis Gallego blamed the pandemic for the downside, but added he was “exacerbated” by “ever-changing” government restrictions.
Instead, he argued that countries should “get out” of quarantines and called for a new pre- or post-flight testing system that would free people on arrival.
Stranded BA jets due to the coronavirus outbreak parked at Gatwick Airport in Sussex in May during the first lockdown
“We can’t wait for the vaccine to make people fly,” Mr. Gallego said. “We need to get out of quarantines. They are not the solution.
BA’s new CEO Sean Doyle last month called on the government to end the self-isolation requirement for international arrivals.
He said the current quarantine system was having a devastating effect on tourism and business travel and called for replacing it with a “test before you fly” system.
Speaking at the Airlines 2050 conference on October 19, he said: “We don’t think quarantine is the answer.
“We believe that the best way to reassure people is to introduce a reliable and affordable test before flying.