By Anthony O. Goriainoff

 

--Ryanair said Friday it intends to cut up to 3,000 jobs, and close bases across Europe until traffic recovers, warning that could be in 2022

--IAG's British Airways plans cut up to 12,000 staff while Lufthansa has said it has "10,000 employees too many on board"

--Norwegian Air subsidiaries have already filed for bankruptcy, threatening close to 5,000 jobs

 

European airlines have outlined plans for tens of thousands of job cuts in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic as the industry braces itself for a period of years before passenger numbers fully recover.

British Airways and Ryanair both said this week they were cutting their workforce drastically as planes stay grounded for long periods of time.

CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson says that the reality is that the aviation and travel sector will likely take several years to return to any sense of normality. Ryanair has said there won't be a recovery in passenger demand or pricing until at least summer 2022 at the earliest, while British Airways owner International Consolidated Airlines Group SA says it will take several years.

"It is highly unlikely that normal service could be resumed at a time when social distancing is likely to be with us for some time in the absence of a vaccine," Mr. Hewson says adding that airlines are going to face an enormous challenge getting people back on planes until confidence has returned.

Ryanair said on Friday that it would cut up to 3,000 jobs, mostly pilots and cabin crew, and was looking at reducing its growth plans by cutting the number of planned aircraft deliveries that were originally expected over the next two years. It also plans to close a number of aircraft bases across Europe until traffic recovers.

The British Airline Pilots Association accused the low-cost airline of having "done a U-turn" on its ability to weather the Covid-19 storm and said that there had been no prior warning or consultation.

"This is miserable news for pilots and staff who have taken pay cuts under the government job retention scheme," Balpa General Secretary Brian Strutton said.

Balpa asked the U.K. government to keep its promise to help airlines or else the industry would be devastated.

Earlier this week IAG warned that its British Airways unit would likely lay off up to 12,000 employees, blaming the impact of Covid-19 and expectations of a slow recovery in demand. Balpa said on Tuesday that the news came as a bolt out of the blue "from an airline that said it was wealthy enough to weather the Covid storm and declined any government support."

On Friday, IAG said that group airlines Iberia and Vueling secured 1.01 billion Euros ($1.2 billion) in new loans from Spain's government to mitigate the hit from the virus.

Deutsche Lufthansa AG said on April 23 that it was in aid talks with several European governments--including Austria, Belgium and Switzerland--after its revenue for the first quarter fell 18% to EUR6.4 billion. On Thursday the German airline's Chief Executive Carsten Spohr said the company had 10,000 employees too many, and that he wouldn't rule out laying off staff for operational reasons.

Norwegian Air Shuttle subsidiaries that employ its cabin crew and pilots in Sweden and Denmark have filed for bankruptcy. The low-cost carrier blamed a lack of financial help from governments amid the coronavirus pandemic demand slump. Norwegian said that the bankruptcies mean that 1,571 pilots and 3,134 cabin crew are now out of work.

The International Air Transport Association has warned that up to 6.7 million jobs could go across Europe, estimating each job created in the aviation industry supports a further 24 in the wider economy.

 

Write to Anthony O. Goriainoff at anthony.orunagoriainoff@dowjones.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

May 01, 2020 10:08 ET (14:08 GMT)

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