BRITISH Airways pilots will be forced to take four weeks off work on unpaid leave as part of the carrier’s desperate battle for survival.
All requests by cockpit crew to work part-time will also be granted as part of a drastic plan agreed with union Balpa last night.
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It is the first step in BA’s bid to stay afloat as the nightmare of coronavirus devastates the aviation industry.
Al Bridget, BA’s director of flight operations, released a joint statement with David Alvarado, chairman of the BA section of pilots union Balpa, agreeing initial measures to “address the immediate threat to the business”.
They said: “To support the airline and make a significant steps to protect the future of the business and jobs, pilots will be required to take two weeks of unpaid leave in each of April and May, with a deduction from basic pay spread over three months (April May and June).
“This requirement will be pro-rated for part time pilots.
“We acknowledge that this situation is hugely challenging for individuals and their families.
“BA and Balpa are committed to working together to find solutions during this unprecedented period and support the future of our airline.”
Last week, we told how BA’s chief executive, Alex Cruz, said that jobs will go and planes will be grounded during what he described as a “crisis of global proportions like no other we have known.
The Sun can also reveal EasyJet’s pilots yesterday turned down the airline’s bid to tear up their contracts and adopt a ‘coronavirus cooperation agreement’.
The no-frills airline wanted crew and pilots to take three months unpaid leave as up to 3,000 staff face losing their jobs.
New easyJet boss Peter Bellew warned that by not accepting the new deal, staff would face redundancy.
Yesterday, there was better news for package travel firm TUI, as their pilots accepted a new deal.
Under the new contract, pilots’ pay over £17,098 will be reduced by 50 per cent.
Overtime has been suspended and sick pay based on the reduced salary.
TUI had been predicted to face a particularly turbulent future by aviation analysts - alongside Norwegian Air.
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And yesterday the Nordic carrier’s UK staff were told to take an extraordinary 70 per cent pay cut or redundancy.
The airline - the eight largest in Europe and third biggest low-cost carrier after Ryanair and easyJet - carried 30 million passengers in 2016.
Last night The Sun was shown a shock ‘emergency payment option’ sent to Norwegian UK employees. They help run a fleet of 13 carriers from Gatwick airport.
Bosses at parent firm OSM Aviation said they had been “compelled to take immediate action in order to assure that operations will remain intact, once the commercial difficulties as caused by the present situation, cease to remain”.
After March pay day, staff are asked to choose between two nightmare scenarios for the following month.
One is unpaid leave or 30 per cent of basic salary. The other is redundancy.
Bosses added: “It is unfortunate that these measures are needed to be taken however, the difficulties in which the company is currently facing has resulted in no other alternative.”
Staff have until next Tuesday to choose their option.
So far, the low-cost airline has grounded 40 per cent of its long-haul fleet and has cut a quarter of its short-haul flights. These measures have been put in place to the end of May.
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The news follows Ryanair announcing it was grounding the majority of its flights as coronavirus continues to spread.
Richard Branson was also told to ‘flog’ private island as Virgin Airlines staff forced to take eight weeks unpaid leave.
And airline Flybe went bust earlier this month after seeing a drop in demand due to the illness.