British Airways wants to axe 500 cargo staff and cull 25% of its operation due to coronavirus crisis

BRITISH Airways wants to axe 500 cargo staff and cull 25% of its operation as group boss Willie Walsh was branded the "new Gerald Ratner".

The cargo cave-in came as the airline was branded a “national disgrace” for trying to give 12,000 workers the boot and switch remaining 30,000 employees onto lower wages.

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In a letter leaked to The Sun, BA admitted of its cargo business: “Based on our current proposal and understanding of the market conditions it is anticipated that the total headcount reduction will be in the region of 400 to 500 individuals.

“However it could be higher. The exact number of heads that would leave the business will also depend on the part-time mix of those leaving and staying.”

As part of its cargo cull, BA wants to get rid of 32 retail agents, 18 customer data agents, 14 flight management analysts and 126 airside agents.

In a letter to the Unite union, BA admitted: “The volumes we are experiencing within the Cargo Operation are impacted by at least 50% across the past three months.

"This month we are impacted by at least 60% reduction in volumes.

“Cargo is also impacted by the unprecedented reduction in passenger plane demand and the number of passenger flights that are operating.”

BA’s proposals include a significant restructuring, which includes outsourcing swathes of its cargo operation.

The airline told the union if it cannot reach agreement over its plans it will “give employees notice of termination and offer them new terms and conditions of employment”.

Staff will be sacked between July 24 and December 31.

It came as The Sun can reveal Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer is biding his time to publicly savage BA's plans to ensure he can achieve "maximum impact".

'TOTAL CRAP'

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey yesterday wrote to BA ordering them to agree to use existing staff terms and conditions before starting negotiations.

And he wants the airline to commit to balloting staff over proposed changes.

Willie Walsh, group boss of BA parent firm IAG, was branded the new hapless Gerald Ratner, who's "total crap" description of his jewellery business led to its demise.

Furious MPs are preparing to strip BA of its precious landing and take-off slots at Heathrow airport and hand them to competitors – costing BA billions.

And Spanish-owned IAG's commitment to buy other airlines at the time BA is being cut to the bone has been described as a massive own goal.

A union official said: "The hubris and arrogance of one man has potentially cost the corporation he heads billions of pounds, just through an opportunistic stunt to heap misery on 42,000 loyal British employees reeling from the effects of a pandemic.

"Even Gerald Ratner must admire Willie Walsh, and is no doubt pleased that someone else will now be used as an example of the "worst ever business decision".

The transport select committee yesterday accused BA of a "calculated attempt to take advantage" of the pandemic by cutting thousands of jobs and downgrading terms and conditions.

'HANGING BY A THREAD'

The cross-party MPs said the airline's actions fell "well below the standards we would expect from any employer".

The aviation industry has been one of the hardest-hit since the pandemic forced a lockdown.

Airlines including EasyJet, Ryanair, and Virgin Atlantic, and suppliers Rolls-Royce and Airbus, have announced thousands of job cuts.

Unite and the GMB are not engaging in talks with BA.

Pilots' union Balpa has had discussions with the airline over the possibility of voluntary redundancies but said consultations were "hanging by a thread".

Last night BA told The Sun: “We are acting now to protect as many jobs possible.

"The airline industry is facing the deepest structural change in its history, as well as facing a severely weakened global economy.

"We call on Unite and GMB to consult with us on our proposals as our pilot union, BALPA, is doing.

"Working together we can protect more jobs as we prepare for a new future."


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