AS has been highlighted previously in Euro Weekly News, the IAG Group which owns a number of airlines including Aer Lingus, British Airways (BA), Iberia and Vueling has found its credit rating downgraded by American company Moodys.
Two of its airlines, Iberia and Vueling have been granted loans amounting to more than €1 billion (underwritten by the Spanish government) on the understanding that none of the money will be used to support BA.
Interestingly three of the IAG board are Spanish, one is South American and when CEO Willie Walsh finally steps down, he will be replaced by another Spaniard.
BA has gone under once in the past and was bailed out by the British government and then returned to private ownership with IAG eventually taking over Britain’s ‘flag carrier’ but with the parlous state of the British economy and the number of airlines begging for state aid, it seems unlikely that any of them will be assisted.
The Unite Union which represents a large number of BA employees has written to the Spanish born CEO of British Airways, Alex Cruz asking him for assurances that BA staff will be treated fairly.
Their biggest fear at the moment is that having made mass redundancies due to the Covid-19 pandemic, BA will only take back a percentage of former employees currently under furlough and will offer them much lower salaries knowing that many will be desperate to protect their livelihoods.
For years residents in Spain have enjoyed large numbers of well-priced flights to and from a good selection of airports but now they must worry that flight numbers and destinations will change whilst prices will rise.
There are many BA staff living and working in Spain and unlike Mr Cruz who has a second home on the Costa del Sol, they may not be able to pay their bills in the future.
Unite has undertaken to send a list of the most important questions raised by their members to the CEO of BA within the next week and it will be interesting not only to see those questions but also Mr Cruz’s response.