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Lufthansa and BA announce huge workforce reduction

April 2, 2020

Two European aviation giants have announced plans that affect more than 100,000 people. Airlines have suffered dramatic losses amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Lufthansa plane in Frankfurt
Image: Reuters/A. Dedert

More than 100,000 workers may be furloughed after British Airways and Lufthansa announced plans on Thursday to survive the global travel shutdown.

British Airways said it was in talks with its union to suspend around 32,000 staff, Reuters reported.

It has already cut its pilots' pay in half, and is now coming to an agreement on suspending about 80% of its cabin and ground crew, engineers and office staff.

Read more: Fragile airline sector struggles to beat coronavirus

Meanwhile, German flag carrier Lufthansa said it has placed 87,000 workers worldwide on shorter hours.

The move, supported by the German government, affects 60% of its workforce, reportedly including cabin crew, ground crew and pilots. Some 62,000 of the employees affected are in Germany.

Around 700 of Lufthansa's 763 aircraft have been grounded, and it is operating at just 5% of its normal seat capacity. 

Chief executive Carsten Spohr last month warned that "the longer this crisis lasts, the more likely it is that the future of aviation cannot be guaranteed without state aid."

Read more: Air traffic takes a nosedive: Eerie silence in the skies

Pandemic endangers future of aviation

Global disruption

The moves illustrate the financial impacts the global aviation industry is facing due to lockdown measures imposed by governments in response to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Australia's Qantas Airways last week 20,000 workers or two thirds of its workforce, while Britain's easyJet said it will temporarily lay off it's 4,000 UK-based cabin crew.

US airlines will receive $25 billion (€23 billion) government grants to cover payrolls over the next six months, but are still encouraging reductions in work hours, unpaid leaves and early retirements.

South America's largest carrier, LATAM Airlines, said Thursday it would only operate 5% of scheduled flights in April.

aw/rt (Reuters, AFP)

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