1. BA possesses artworks by such prominent British artists as Damien Hirst and Peter Doig
  2. A work by painter Bridget Riley has a value “well into seven figures"
  3. The airline is burning through 178 million pounds ($225 million) a week

British Airways, or BA, the flag carrier airline of the U.K., has been forced to sell its costly art collection in order to raise needed cash and cut costs as it continues to struggle through the ravages of the covid-19 pandemic.

The carrier, a subsidiary of International Airlines Group, or IAG, has even retained the services of valuers from London’s famed auction house Sotheby's to conduct the sales.

London’s Evening Standard newspaper reported that BA possesses artworks by such prominent British artists as Damien Hirst and Peter Doig. Some of these works have hung in the company’s lounges at its Waterside headquarters and elsewhere for decades.

A work by painter Bridget Riley – presently on display at an executive lounge in Heathrow Airport -- has a value “well into seven figures.”

Other pieces in BA's collection include works by Tracey Emin, Anish Kapoor and Chris Ofili.

BA plans to initially sell at least 10 artworks from its collection. Reportedly, the idea to unload the paintings came from staff who were asked to come up with ideas to raise funds. BA is also considering borrowing artworks from galleries in the future rather than owning them outright.

Meanwhile, BA, which is presently involved in contentious negotiations with labor unions over its plan to cut 12,000 jobs, including 1,000 pilots, has been hammered by the collapse of air travel due to the pandemic.

“We are in a very dark place. We are doing things we have never done before,” said a BA source about the imminent art sale. “When the ship is going down we can’t hold on to all these things.”

BA has been engaged in a frenzy of cost-cutting – it recently announced the sale and leasebacks of aircraft it owns in order to raise £750 million ($949 million).

BA has also increased its revolving credit facility with its banks and raised £300 million ($380 million) in government loans under a commercial paper loan scheme.

Last week, Alex Cruz, BA’s chairman and CEO, warned of more restructuring of the business to save it as a continuing concern.

The airline, he said, is burning through 178 million pounds ($225 million) a week, and he could not guarantee its survival.

Some U.K. lawmakers have condemned the airline for massive job cuts and proposed wage reductions for existing staff.

Conservative MP Huw Merriman blasted BA for “betraying Britain” while accepting a low-interest loan from the British government.

“It is very disappointing that British Airways seem determined to press ahead with devastating cuts to their workforce despite the government furlough scheme being extended until the end of October,” Merriman wrote in a letter to IAG. “On the one hand, BA are happy to take taxpayers’ money from the furlough scheme which was designed to help companies avoid redundancies. Yet on the other, BA is ploughing ahead with a cull of their workforce and a lowering of [their work] terms and conditions. This is not what people would expect from our national flag carrier. BA’s loyal staff deserve better than to be treated like this.“