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IAG ‘not picking on British Airways’, chief executive says

House of Commons

By Neil Lancefield, PA Transport Correspondent

British Airways’ parent company has insisted it is not “picking on” the airline after announcing it will shed up to 12,000 jobs.

IAG chief executive Willie Walsh told MPs that restructuring will be carried out across the group, which owns other carriers such as Aer Lingus, Iberia and Vueling.

It announced last month that up to 12,000 British Airways workers will be made redundant, which is equivalent to more than a quarter of the workforce.

Giving evidence to the Commons’ Transport Select Committee, Mr Walsh insisted the timing of the announcement about the reduction in staffing at British Airways was due to the UK’s labour laws.

He said: “The labour legislation in Ireland and Spain – the two other major countries in which we operate – it’s different. We’re required to do it in a different way.

“We are embarking on a restructuring and I’ve made it clear that this is group-wide restructuring. It’s not specific to British Airways.

“It’s group-wide restructuring in the face of the greatest crisis that the airline industry and the airlines within IAG have faced.”

He added: “We are not picking on British Airways.

“We’re not doing anything that we don’t think is absolutely necessary to secure the survival of British Airways and we’re doing exactly the same with the other airlines in the group.”

Labour MP Sam Tarry put it to Mr Walsh that cabin crew cannot understand why they are being “thrown on the scrap heap” given IAG has billions of pounds in liquidity, and it has been suggested the restructuring is a “pre-determined decision” which will be “potentially quite market advantageous versus your rivals”.

Mr Walsh replied: “Our restructuring is solely driven by the fact that we are now in the deepest downturn that the aviation industry has ever seen.

“Our capacity is going to be significantly lower in 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023 and beyond than we had planned to be.

“The amount of flying we’re doing will be significantly lower than the flying that we were proposing to do.

“As a result of that, we need to restructure our business.”

He went on: “This has been driven solely by the downturn.

“I don’t think I need to hide the scale of it, because it’s obvious to everybody. We’re not flying our aircraft to transport passengers.”

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