British Airways to reverse COVID cuts and hire 4,000 staff

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A British Airways Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner plane arrives at Heathrow Airport, London. Picture date: Friday August 6, 2021. (Photo by Steve Parsons/PA Images via Getty Images)
The company currently employs 30,000 people, meaning that the move represents a 15% increase. Photo: Steve Parsons/PA Images via Getty Images

British Airways is set to add around 4,000 staff to its workforce by next summer, reversing an earlier decision to cut employee numbers as COVID-19 ripped into its finances.

The airline will take on pilots, cabin crew, ground staff and back-office roles as part of the recruitment drive as it prepares for a wider recovery in travel and aviation.

The company currently employs 30,000 people, meaning that the move represents a 15% increase.

Chief executive Sean Doyle told Bloomberg: “We’re actively recruiting. It’s exciting to be rebuilding the airline and to be creating opportunities again after two years where we haven’t been able to fly much.”

Read more: British Airways owner warns of €3bn loss despite US travel reopening

Watch: BA's owner eyes transatlantic-driven recovery after peak summer season loss

During the pandemic, British Airways cut as many as 10,000 jobs, and put almost 25,000 staff on furlough.

However, just this week, transatlantic flights resumed after the US allowed fully vaccinated passengers from the UK, EU, India, Mexico and Canada. 

IAG (IAG.L), the owner of the airline, which also owns Iberia, Aer Lingus, and Vueling, said last week that it expects capacity numbers to increase to 60% in the last quarter of the year.

It is hoping for a stronger final three months, and to return to profitability in 2022 if it reaches pre-COVID levels in the peak summer season.

Read more: Heathrow airport warns UK air travel recovery lagging EU rivals as bookings jump

“There's a significant recovery underway and our teams across the group are working hard to capture every opportunity. We continue to capitalise on surges in bookings when travel restrictions are lifted,” Luis Gallego, chief executive of IAG, said as part of the company’s trading update.

“The full reopening of the transatlantic travel corridor from Monday is a pivotal moment for our industry. British Airways is serving more US destinations than any transatlantic carrier and we're delighted that we can get our customers flying again.”

BA will also relaunch short-haul flights from Gatwick after reaching an agreement with unions.

It comes as the UK government gave the industry a boost, cutting the number of countries on its red list, which has the toughest restrictions, from 54 to just seven. The red list now consists of only Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Panama, Peru and Venezuela.

COVID-19 testing rules were also simplified with PCR tests for international travellers scrapped last month.

Watch: Should I book a holiday in 2021?

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