Travel Restrictions Force British Airways To Re-Furlough Staff

British Airways has found itself in a situation where it needs to send staff back to furlough, the government’s job protection scheme. The move comes following the UK Government’s decision to reduce its already limited list of green list destinations where travelers do not have to quarantine on returning to England.

British Airways, Staff, Furlough
British Airways is sending employees from across the business back to furlough. Photo: British Airways

British Airways had hoped that the UK Government’s green list would allow it to salvage some of the 2021 summer travel season. With this in mind, the airline launched a host of flights last month, hoping that the UK would add these destinations to the green list. The opposite has happened.

Employees sent back to furlough

According to the BBC, British Airways is sending thousands of staff from across the business back onto the government’s furlough scheme. These employees had been brought back in the hope that the government’s green list would mean the start of a return to normality.

Sadly, the green list has so far been anything but what the industry had hoped for. One of only two realistic travel destinations was taken off the list earlier this week, making Gibraltar the leading remaining destination.

United Kingdom, Portugal, Amber List
The UK government’s current country classification. Photo:

As these staff members had been brought back in the hope of increased schedules, they are sadly being turned around as it becomes clear that British Airways can’t operate the program that it had hoped to this summer. The news comes shortly after the airline launched a new advertising campaign with a triumphant return theme.

Commenting, a British Airways spokesperson told Simple Flying,

“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.”

Why has British Airways taken this action?

For the past 15 months, British Airways has been operating far fewer flights than it would like. The airline saw some recovery in the second half of 2020, although this was all undone by strict travel restrictions brought in at the start of 2021.

According to data from, this week saw British Airways operate 140% more flights than the same week in 2020. It’s not all good news, though. This was still a 76% decrease from the same week in 2019.

British Airways, Staff, Furlough
The airline is still operating a skeleton service. Photo:

The airline was operating many flights to Portugal, with routes to 13 destinations, including the Greek and Spanish Islands, planned for June 21st. These had been launched in the hopes that they would join the green list on June 8th. Instead, the government shocked many by removing Portugal.

As a result of the unexpected status change, British Airways has dialed back its schedule for June and July. According to aviation data experts Cirium, British Airways has 3,867 flights scheduled for the entire month of June. This week that fell by 42% (1,625 flights) to 2,242 flights for the whole month. So far, the impact on July has remained minimal in the hope that things will improve. Last week 4,827 flights were scheduled for July, dropping slightly by 9% to 4,396 flights this week.

What do you make of British Airways sending employees back to Furlough? Let us know what you think and why in the comments below.