British Airways is selling a collection of artwork from its lounges and head office, worth an estimated £1m ($1.28) in order to raise money. The news of the unique fundraising idea comes at a time when the airline is in consultations regarding up to 12,000 job cuts.
Every airline has been affected by the current aviation crisis, with each facing different challenges. Some like LATAM have filled for bankruptcy. Meanwhile, the likes of Lufthansa have received a €9 billion ($10.2 billion) bailout. At a time when other airlines are looking towards recovery, British Airways sees its return stunted by the UK’s blanket quarantine restrictions.
According to a report from the Evening Standard today, British Airways is looking to sell parts of its art collection in a bid to raise some funds. According to the publication, Sotheby’s have been brought in to value the art collection.
Stay informed: Sign up for our daily aviation news digest.
British Airways is understood to be selling at least 10 paintings. These have been created by artists such as Peter Doig and Damien Hurst, with individual paintings valued at over £1 million ($1.3 million). The art pieces come from the lounges and head office of the airline.
While they may make for nice viewing, selling the art likely won’t have a detrimental effect on the airline, besides a small dip in its physical assets. The paintings could easily be replaced in the lounges with other artworks or images that cost much less. Additionally, it is hard to see an operational need for having high value, original artworks in the airline’s head office.
According to the first issue of the British Airways magazine, ‘The Faster Track’ issued to Premier members, the British Airways collection has over 1,000 pieces. At the time, the airline’s worldwide lounge manager Shalini Bhatia said,
“Art plays a significant role in British Airways lounges and the importance of this is showcased in the name ‘Galleries’.”
Why is British Airways raising money?
Like every airline across the world, British Airways is struggling with the impact that the current pandemic is having on the aviation industry. The airline has issued notices to union stating that it could be forced to lay off up to 12,000 members of staff in a worst-case scenario.
Additionally, at the weekend suggestions popped up that the airline was threatening to fire its entire pilot workforce, and then offer to rehire employees on new contracts. A new bill presented in Scottish Parliament yesterday would make this illegal. The British Airline Pilots Association today backed this saying:
“It is absolutely right that this practice of essentially legalised blackmail should be outlawed in the UK and we welcome Gavin Newlands’ work on this.”
What do you make of the British Airways art sale? Would you buy some if you could? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!