British Airways Abruptly Replaces Its Chief Executive


“It’s going to be a very challenging winter for the whole European airline industry,” said Andrew Lobbenberg, an equities analyst at HSBC, who specializes in the transport industry. In China, Russia and to a lesser extent in the United States, large domestic markets are improving for the airline industry. But Europe’s market has been fractured by travel restrictions, he said.

Airlines that do more long-haul travel, including British Airways, Air France and Lufthansa, will also struggle. “For BA, corporate travel is incredibly important, and it’s vanished,” Mr. Lobbenberg said.

In May, Lufthansa received a German government bailout worth €9 billion, but last month said it would cut more than 22,000 jobs. Short-haul carrier easyJet said last week that it would report its first ever annual loss and planned to fly only a quarter of its normal capacity in the last three months of 2020. Virgin Atlantic laid off almost half of its staff even after it devised a £1.2 billion private rescue deal.

Mr. Cruz, who previously led Vueling, a low-cost Spanish airline controlled by IAG, had run-ins with organized labor as the British Airways chief. The job cuts announced this summer prompted the labor union Unite to accuse the airline of “betrayal” and trying to fire cabin crew and then rehire them on worse terms in new contracts. In response, the airline said it wouldn’t issue new contracts, but instead make amendments to existing contracts.

The airline said that by the end of August, it had cut more than 8,000 jobs and had come to agreements with pilots, engineers and Heathrow Airport staff.

British Airways has had a contentious relationship with unions in the past. In September 2019, a pay dispute led pilots to go on strike for 48 hours, forcing the cancellation of thousands of flights.

In recent years, computer failures have hurt the airline’s reputation with passengers, and in 2018, lax security allowed hackers to steal personal data of half a million customers. The Information Commissioner’s Office said it intended to fine British Airways more than £180 million for the data breach. On Monday, a representative for the regulatory agency said the process was ongoing.



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