British Airways is quietly looking to auction off at least 10 pieces from its art collection to help it survive, according to reports, as it bleeds cash with flying largely halted amid the coronavirus pandemic.
- British Airways has reportedly hired auction house Sotheby’s to value artwork the company plans on selling soon, the Evening Standard first reported.
- The airline’s art collection is made up of 1,500 works by mostly British artists, like Damien Hirst and Peter Doig, and is believed to be worth millions.
- The pieces are displayed in British Airways executive lounges around the world, as well as the company’s headquarters just outside Heathrow in the U.K.
- One piece in particular by painter Bridget Riley that hangs in the Heathrow Airport executive lounge could fetch the airline a seven-figure sum, according to the Evening Standard.
- British Airways has reportedly earmarked at least 10 pieces of art to auction.
- The company would not confirm or deny the plans to sell art, but sources reportedly told British media outlets the idea to sell the art had come from staff brainstorming cost-saving measures.
The move to start selling pieces comes as British Airways parent company IAG recorded a $1.8 billion loss in the first three months of the year, as flights remain grounded because of the Covid-19 pandemic. British Airways is anticipating even greater losses in the second quarter, having only half the passengers it had aimed for according to May reports. Passenger numbers may not return to pre-pandemic hit levels until around 2024, and the airline has proposed to shed 12,000 jobs, though a final decision has not been made. The proposed job cuts have set off a bitter battle with unions. MPs have even accused British Airways of using the viral outbreak to restructure, according to the BBC.