British Airways puts thousands back on furlough

Ceri Breeze /

British Airways has put thousands of employees back on furlough because plans to resume international travel have stalled.

The airline started to bring back staff ahead of 17 May, when the government began to ease restrictions on foreign holidays. However, like many other airlines, BA has continued to face limited demand as so few countries have been included on the government’s “green list”.

It confirmed that it had put some staff, including management, back on furlough, but did not disclose how many. Those linked to safety and critical operational roles remained at work.

BA said in a statement: “Like many companies we’re using the furlough scheme to protect jobs during this unprecedented crisis. However, it’s vital the government follows its risk-based framework to re-open international travel as soon as possible, putting more low-risk countries, like the US, on its green list at the next available opportunity.”

Popular holiday destinations, such as Spain, Greece and France, are not on the government’s green list for travel. Portugal moved from green to amber earlier this week, meaning that people now have to self-isolate for 10 days when they arrive back from the country.

The government has advised that people should not visit countries on the amber list for leisure.

It has been reported that a large number of BA staff had already been furloughed under the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), and had only recently returned to work.

The number of furloughed workers fell by 880,000 in April – and by 1.6 million since January – the latest HMRC and ONS furlough statistics showed. However, 3.4 million people, or 11.7% of all employees, remained on furlough.

The CJRS is scheduled to end on 30 September and the amount the government contributes to furloughed workers’ pay reduces from 80% to 70% in July and to 60% from August. There have been calls to extend the scheme further in order to avoid mass redundancies.

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