British Airways is auctioning off art worth millions as pandemic weighs on earnings


Nicolas Economou | NurPhoto | Getty Images

British Airways plans to auction off art worth millions as the airline looks to raise capital amid the coronavirus crisis.

The auction, first reported by U.K. newspaper The Evening Standard, will include works from Damien Hirst, Peter Doig and Bridget Riley, with one of the pieces valued at more than £1 million ($1.26 million).

At least 10 artworks from the airline’s collection, which had previously been on display in its airport lounges, will be put up for sale.

According to The Standard, auction house Sotheby’s has been brought in to value the works.

Both BA and Sotheby’s declined to comment when contacted by CNBC.

BA has faced immense financial pressure amid the coronavirus crisis, with the outbreak forcing flights to be grounded and suppressing demand for travel.

IAG, the airline’s parent company, warned in April that BA planned to cut as many as 12,000 jobs to reduce costs as the pandemic weighed on operations. The company reported a first-quarter operating loss of 535 million euros — a huge fall from its 135 million euro profit a year earlier.

BA has said it won’t rule anything out as it looks to save both money and jobs.

Revenues across the aviation industry are expected to fall by 50% to $419 billion in 2020, according to the International Air Transport Association.

On Friday, in partnership with Ryanair and easyJet, BA launched a formal legal challenge to the U.K. government’s quarantine rules, which would force incoming travelers to self-isolate for 14 days in a bid to stop the spread of Covid-19.

The airlines claimed the policy would have a “devastating” impact on the British tourism industry.

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