The British Airline Pilots Association have announced that British Airways pilots have accepted a deal that will temporarily cut their pay by 20% and limit job losses to just about 270, as against the initial planned 1,255.

This deal has resolved an ongoing bitter dispute between the pilots and the airline, as the carriers attempt to navigate through the global slump in air travel due to COVID-19.

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The British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA), while disclosing that just over one-fifth of the 1,255 initially planned redundancies will be allowed to go, the terms of the agreement suggest that the pilots will accept an initial pay cut of 20%, which will gradually reduce to 8% over a 2-year period and then phase out entirely in a longer-term.

The pilot union said that there will not be firing and rehiring of pilots. The UK lawmakers had previously been very critical of British Airways over the alleged usage of furlough fire and rehire scheme, a strategy used by companies to force employees to accept inferior terms.

They accused the airline of planning to cut as many as 12,000 jobs and exploiting the coronavirus crisis to reduce staff and weaken the employment terms of those remaining.

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Airlines have been seriously hit by government lockdowns and restrictions that are parts of measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

The hopes of the airlines recovering at the tail end of the profitable summer tourism season seem to have been dashed due to disruptions caused by a new wave of the virus outbreak in many countries, including France and Spain, with new travel restrictions being placed by them.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA), had revealed that a full recovery is unlikely before 2024, which is a year later than it had earlier predicted. The British Airways, while agreeing with this bleak assessment, says that it does not expect the airline to return to pre-COVID-19 business level until at least 2023.

The IAG Group, holding company for British Airways, said yesterday, “Therefore we need to act now to reshape our company for a very different future.”

The company has not received the billions in bailouts that some rival airlines like Air France-KLM and Deutsche Lufthansa received. The assistance they got was only limited to furlough funds to protect jobs and state-backed loans.

Global lockdowns imposed to fight the coronavirus pandemic have negatively affected air travel, thereby putting the future of many airlines in serious doubt.

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