British Airways boss says MPs' scathing report was 'based on rumours and emotion'

The chief executive of British Airways says a report by the Commons Transport Select Committee, which was deeply critical of the airline, is “not based on facts” and “fails to grasp the economics of the airline industry”.

In a video circulated to BA’s staff on Sunday, Alex Cruz accuses MPs of being influenced by “rumours and emotions”.

The select committee report, which was published at the weekend, labelled BA “a national disgrace” and concluded the company was making “a calculated attempt to take advantage of the pandemic” by making up to 12,000 of its workforce redundant and seeking to downgrade the contracts of the 30,000 who remain.

  • BA Chief Executive Alex Cruz is critical of the transport select committee report:

BA issued formal notice of its plans to lay off staff to three unions on April 28.

The Unite and the GMB unions have refused to negotiate unless BA removes a threat to dismiss staff and rehire them on new terms and conditions if agreement can’t be reached on the proposed changes.

The 45 day minimum period for consultation ends on Monday but, in the video, Alex Cruz tells staff “there will be no redundancies [on Monday]”.

He adds: “I am angered on your behalf that so much anxiety has been caused by outsiders, who do not really care about British Airways, telling you that everything is over.

"I have never said that jobs will not be lost, but we will not reach the point of redundancies until we have exhausted every option to save as many jobs as possible."

Cruz says the Section 188 notices which BA sent out in April were not “notice of dismissals” but instead “outline every item that could possibly be consulted on”.

He explains that BA is entering “a new phase of this process” and will “start to implement some of the changes needed to secure our future”.

He says the airline will make “administrative filings that disclose all possible outcomes of our proposals which must include worst-case scenarios”.

Cruz pledges to do “everything in my power to ensure that British Airways can survive and sustain the maximum number of jobs in line with the new reality of the airline industry and a severely weakened global economy”.

  • Joel Hills has more updates on the future of the aviation industry as restrictions ease:

The 11 MPs on the Transport Select Committee will doubtless by infuriated by the allegation their report failed to deal with the facts.

Select committees are assisted by clerks and usually have experts on hand to advise them.

It will be fascinating to see how MPs respond.

Their inquiry into the crisis facing the aviation sector received evidence from a number of airports and airlines, including from Willie Walsh, the CEO of IAG (which owns BA) who appeared to answer MPs' questions.

BA’s relationship with both parliament and government appears to have largely disintegrated.

When asked about the situation at BA, the prime minister expressed concern about the way some companies are treating their workforces.

  • Watch the full video circulated to BA staff:

Two weeks ago, the Aviation Minister, Kelly Tolhurst, said that BA was misusing the government’s Job Retention Scheme (BA has furloughed 22,000 staff) and agreed that it should “pay a price” for doing so.

The Transport Select Committee judged that BA’s behaviour towards its staff “falls well below the standards expected from any employer” and “cannot appear to go without sanction”.

It isn’t clear if the government plans to do anything more than expressing public disapproval.