The chief executive of British Airways has faced difficult questions over the 55 per cent hike in pay he has enjoyed since joining the airline in 2016. On Friday, British Airways pilots represented by the BALPA trade union announced they would go on strike after making “sacrifice after sacrifice” for the airline. British Airways has offered them an 11.5 per cent increase in basic pay spread over the next three years.
Alex Cruz, 53, received a remuneration package totalling £1.2 million last year – up from £830,000 in 2016. In contrast, Cruz was paid roughly 61 times more than the airline’s lowest-paid cabin crew – so-called ‘Mixed Fleet’ crew are paid between £21,000 and £27,000 according to BA’s own figures.
British Airways has described the proposed pay deal for pilots as “very fair” but BALPA believes the airline should be able to dig a little deeper after making record profits. Last year, British Airways reported an operating profit of nearly £2 billion – a 10 per cent increase on 2017 and nearly 30 per cent better than 2016’s near £1.5 billion profit.
Despite leading a massive £6.5 billion investment in new aircraft and an improved passenger experience at the airline, Cruz has faced heavy criticism from both passengers and staff. He has been at the helm during several massive IT failures that stranded hundreds of thousands of passengers, a huge data breach that resulted in the airline being slapped with a £183 million fine (which is being challenged) and the first-ever pilots strike.
The airline’s current response to the strike threat – set to take place on the 9th, 10th and 27th September – is currently being hampered by yet another IT fiasco. This time, the airline has apparently sent out thousands of emails to customers telling them their flights have been cancelled when in fact the flight might still be operating.
Some customers only found out about the mistake after following BA’s advice to cancel their original booking and buying tickets with other carriers at inflated prices. It’s suspected the airline reacted quickly but perhaps rashly in advising customers of flight cancellations in order to avoid mandatory compensation payouts.
British Airways has apologised for the “error” but many customers are reporting difficulties contacting the airline to rectify the mistake.
Over recent years, pilots say they have seen their pay cut and working conditions eroded with imposed productivity increases, the closure of the company’s final salary pension scheme, a loss of annual leave days, a new rostering system and reduced flying pay.
British Airways say’s the deal rejected by its pilots has already been accepted by ground staff and cabin crew. However, the union that represents BA’s lowest-paid cabin crew claim in a series of recent Tweet’s that they never accepted the pay deal and that it was in fact “imposed” on them.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.