LONDON – British Airways announced Thursday it would cut another 5,200 jobs, or about 9 percent of its work force, and reduce operations by 10 percent because of an expected slowdown in air travel following terror attacks in the United States.
``We face exceptional conditions which have forced us to take very tough decisions,'' chief executive Rod Eddington said.
BA said it didn't know yet what changes would be made in flight schedules or routes with the 10 percent operations cutback. The job cuts are on top of 1,800 reductions announced earlier this month.
The move follows announcements of nearly 70,000 job cuts by U.S. airlines, including United, American, U.S. Airways, Continental and America West. Boeing, the world's largest commercial aircraft manufacturer, also plans to lay off up to 30,000 workers.
British Airways said the layoffs were a result of last week's suicide jet attacks against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, which have led to airport shutdowns and dwindling demand.
``British Airways today announced a series of measures to address the anticipated reduction in demand from passengers following the tragic events in the USA last week,'' the company said in a statement.
The airline, with a fleet of 268 planes, said it would remove 10 aircraft from the long-haul fleet, at first by advancing the retirement of its Boeing 747-200 and then by withdrawing other wide-bodied aircraft. Six Boeing 767s and four narrow-bodied aircraft will be withdrawn from the short-haul operation.
British Airways is considered one of the most vulnerable to an expected drop in trans-Atlantic travel, which accounts for 38 percent of the company's capacity and the bulk of its profits.
The airline, which employs 58,000 people, had been bruised by no-frills airlines offering cut-rate European flights and tougher competition on trans-Atlantic routes.
Sir Ken Jackson, general secretary of the Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union, said the government ``must play its full part because a great deal of financial assistance is required.''
``Short-term job cuts are not the answer,'' Jackson said.
Earlier this month, the company said it would eliminate 1,800 jobs by next April in an effort to cut costs. Another 3,000 jobs were cut through voluntary means in the financial year ending March 30.
Before the terror attacks, fears of foot-and-mouth disease in Britain and a drop in the number of Americans flying business class caused the British Airway's first-quarter operating profit to fall by half to $72 million.
Since the attacks, its share price has plunged more than 35 percent. On Wednesday, shares fell by 6.3 percent to a 10-year low.
The airline said the terrorist attacks would not derail plans to resume Concorde service next month. British Airways and Air France grounded the supersonic jets after a New York-bound flight crashed outside Paris last year, killing 113 people.
BA has not set a date for restoring Concorde flights.