British Airways ‘fighting for survival,’ warns boss

British Airways ‘fighting for survival,’ warns boss
Flagship carrier British Airways is burning through £20 million a day and running only a third of normal services, according to its CEO. (AFP)
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Updated 17 September 2020

British Airways ‘fighting for survival,’ warns boss

British Airways ‘fighting for survival,’ warns boss
  • BA has already laid off 13,000 staff and renegotiated the contracts of many of its remaining employees

LONDON: British Airways is having to take every measure possible to make it through the winter because a fear of flying during the pandemic has destroyed any hope of a rapid return to normality, its boss said on Wednesday.

BA CEO Alex Cruz told a parliamentary select committee that the airline was running at 25 to 30 percent of its normal flight schedule, prompting it to cut thousands of jobs because “fewer flights means fewer people required to actually service them.”

“This is the worst crisis that British Airways has gone through in its 100 years of history,” he said. “We’re still fighting for our own survival.

“We are taking every measure possible to make sure we can actually make it through this winter. We do not see a short-term coming back of our passengers. All the feedback we get ... is still pointing at a slow recovery process.”

Britain’s leading airline has been heavily criticized by politicians and unions for laying off 13,000 staff and renegotiating the contracts of many of its remaining employees.

The airline says it has no choice, because it is burning through £20 million a day and straining the finances of parent company IAG which is in the process of raising €2.74 billion from shareholders.

Cruz has cut his own pay by around a third.

UK-based airlines have benefited from government employment retention schemes and loans, but have not had the kind of industry-specific support deployed in France and Germany to bail out Air France-KLM and Lufthansa.

Cruz said a return to flying had been hampered by the weekly changes to quarantine rules and the lack of a testing system at airports. A two-stage testing system, where passengers are tested on arrival and five days later could remove the need for 14-day quarantines, he said.

“We remain worried with regards to the evolution of the rest of the winter season. People are still afraid of traveling and we are having weekly changes to the quarantine list, we don’t have a testing solution yet.


American Airlines holds first civilian passenger flight of 737 MAX in nearly two years

Updated 7 min 34 sec ago

American Airlines holds first civilian passenger flight of 737 MAX in nearly two years

American Airlines holds first civilian passenger flight of 737 MAX in nearly two years
  • Part of a PR effort by the planemaker and airlines to rehabilitate the jet’s image
  • A smooth return to service for the MAX is seen as critical for Boeing’s reputation and finances

DALLAS: Boeing’s 737 MAX on Wednesday will make its first public demonstration flight with members of the media since being grounded over fatal crashes, as one of its biggest customers, American Airlines, seeks to prove it is safe for passengers.
The flight from the airline’s base in Dallas, Texas, to Tulsa, Oklahoma, comes weeks before the airline’s first commercial flight on Dec. 29, and is part of a PR effort by the planemaker and airlines to rehabilitate the jet’s image following a record 20-month ban.
Boeing said it had no comment on the American flight and that it would not have staff aboard. The planemaker has said that airlines will take a direct role in demonstrating to passengers that the 737 MAX is safe.
Boeing’s best-selling jet was grounded worldwide in March 2019 after two crashes five months apart killed a combined 346 people, marking the industry’s worst safety crisis in decades and a huge setback for US aviation regulatory leadership.
Wednesday’s flight marks the first time anyone besides regulators and industry personnel have flown on the MAX since the grounding. Last month, the US Federal Aviation Administration cleared it to fly. Brazil’s Gol Linhas Aereas Inteligentes is planning a similar high-profile event for the redesigned MAX this month, with cautious hopes to fly its first commercial flights as soon as next week, a representative said.
A smooth return to service for the MAX is seen as critical for Boeing’s reputation and finances.
The US planemaker is bracing for intense publicity from even routine glitches by manning a 24-hour “situation room” to monitor every MAX flight globally, and has briefed some industry commentators on details on the return to service, industry sources said.
Airlines and leasing companies have spent hundreds of billions of dollars buying the latest upgrade of the 737, the world’s most-sold aircraft.
But families of some of the crash victims in Indonesia and Ethiopia have protested the return to service, saying it is premature before a final investigative report on the second crash has been released.
The PR efforts are designed to highlight software and training upgrades which the FAA has said remove any doubt about the plane’s safety.
Boeing toned down its original plans for the plane’s eventual return as the crisis dragged on longer than executives expected, scrapping a high-profile publicity campaign which had included a ceremony in the Seattle area and a tour using an Oman Air 737 MAX, industry sources said.
A Boeing representative declined to comment.
Meanwhile, in a vote of confidence, airlines are stepping in to place orders for the MAX, with Alaska Airlines agreeing to lease extra MAX jets last week, and Ireland’s Ryanair expected to top up MAX orders as early as this week.