British Airways is nearing agreement with unions on a deal to suspend 36,000 cabin crew, ground staff and engineers due to the coronavirus crisis, according to reports.

The Sun reported that up to 80% of these staff would be furloughed but that none would lose their jobs.

It said the figure rose to 100% at Gatwick and London City airports where BA has axed services entirely as a result of the outbreak.

British Airways said: Talks continue.

Trade union Unite was yet to respond to a request for comment.

BA’s parent company, International Airlines Group, has previously said its capacity would be down 75% in April and May compared with the same period last year.

British Airways chief executive Alex Cruz told staff in March jobs would be lost perhaps for a short period, perhaps longer term and the company was in discussions with trade unions.

He warned that it was in a battle for survival amid a crisis of global proportions like no other we have known, more serious than the financial crisis, SARS or 9/11.

Rival airline easyJet said on Monday that it had grounded its entire fleet.

On Wednesday, Sky News revealed that fears over the future of another airline, Virgin Atlantic, had prompted major aviation industry players including Heathrow Airport to call for state intervention in the form of a bailout.

(c) Sky News 2020: Coronavirus: British Airways nears deal to suspend 36,000 staff – report