As it makes further proposals on changes to employment contracts, British Airways (BA, London Heathrow) is allegedly planning to lay off thousands of employees and then rehire them on half the pay, unions and employees have told the UK's Daily Mirror newspaper.

Earlier in May, as the coronavirus crisis continued to eat into its business, the airline outlined new contract terms in a letter sent to staff. Now, it is also sending its workers notices on redundancies scheduled for June 15, according to the report.

As previously reported, BA's owner, IAG International Airlines Group, had already disclosed that it was set to cut up to 12,000 jobs, including 1,130 pilots, from its 42,000 employees. It said it had entered consultations with staff representatives.

British Airways' cabin crew are divided into three, long haul, short haul, and a newer lower-paid "mixed fleet" division who fly all distances under what cabin crew have said are inferior contracts. The airline is now allegedly in negotiations to combine all three into a single group with lower pay.

As a result, some senior long-haul crew based at London Heathrow may see pay cuts of up to 75%, the newspaper said. Under the proposed terms, annual salaries would be streamlined at GBP24,000 pounds (USD29,000) for all.

"We are acting now to protect as many jobs possible," British Airways said in a statement sent to ch-aviation. "The airline industry is facing the deepest structural change in its history, as well as facing a severely weakened global economy. We are committed to consulting openly with our unions and our people as we prepare for a new future."

Len McCluskey, general secretary of Unite, the UK's biggest trade union, accused BA of using the current crisis as cover to cut jobs and payroll costs.