British Airways is expected to announce that it will suspend 36,000 staff, around 80% of its total workforce, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, BBC News reported.
The suspension has not been confirmed while the airline continues to negotiate with the Unite union.
“Talks with British Airways are ongoing and Unite’s priority is always to communicate with our members, who are very anxious at this time but who understand the work that Unite is doing to protect jobs, incomes and futures,” a Unite spokesperson told The Guardian.
British Airways is not expected to make any layoffs and suspended staff should be able to claim 80% of their salary capped at £2,500 ($3,100) as part of the British government’s coronavirus job retention plan.
BA pilots had already agreed to take two weeks’ unpaid leave, and a 50% pay cut in April and May, according to the Financial Times.
The airline had announced earlier this week that it would suspend all flights out of its second-biggest hub, London’s Gatwick Airport.
Despite the grounding of many flights, BA planes have been running repatriation flights to bring home British people stranded abroad by the pandemic.
The aviation industry has been one of the sectors hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic with quarantine zones, movement restrictions, and a sharp drop in demand for travel grounding entire airline fleets.