International Airlines Group (IAG) says it will reduce capacity by around 90 per cent during April and May.

The figure is a further reduction in planned capacity compared to the group’s announcement in mid-March, when it said it would cut capacity by 75 per cent.

The group said that it “continues to take every action to reduce operating expenses and improve cash flow”, adding that “In recent weeks, IAG’s airlines have been helping to repatriate customers throughout the world and to conduct cargo flights delivering vital medical equipment and supplies, food and other products to combat COVID-19 and keep global supply chains moving”.

Earlier this week subsidiary carrier British Airways suspended all operations at London’s Gatwick airport, having previously made a similar move at London City.

Meanwhile BA has reached an agreement with the Unite and GMB unions to furlough over 30,000 cabin crew and ground staff during April and May.

Under the UK’s COVID-19 Job Retention Scheme, employees will receive 80 per cent of their base pay and “certain allowances”.

Unite said that key to the deal (which requires final approval from members) was the fact that “unlike the government scheme, there will be no cap on earnings”, and workers will be able to divert their pension contributions into their pay for a short period of time.

There will also be no unpaid temporary lay offs, and “the redundancy process that had already begun has been halted”.

Unite national officer for aviation Oliver Richardson said that “Given the incredibly difficult circumstances that the entire aviation sector is facing this is as good a deal as possible for our members”.

“The deal protects the jobs of BA staff and, as far as possible, also protects their pay,” Richardson added.

“This is what can and should be done to protect workers during this unprecedented time for the airline sector.”

British Airways also released the following statement:

“Our colleagues have done a brilliant job keeping vital routes open to reunite customers with their families, and bring back supplies to our hospitals, factories and shops.

“But with the challenges of Coronavirus, like many airlines, we have been in touch with colleagues to advise that we are implementing the furlough scheme to minimise the financial impact on them.”

In a separate agreement, 4,000 British Airways pilots will take four weeks of unpaid leave in April and May.