British Airways will seek to merge cabin crew on well-paid legacy contracts with so-called Mixed Fleet crew who were once claimed to be on “poverty pay” according to several sources who are said to be familiar with the matter. The reports follow an announcement from British Airways on Tuesday afternoon that it intends to make as many as 12,000 employees redundant because of the ongoing Coronavirus crisis.
Along with significantly downsizing its cabin crew workforce, British Airways will seek to substantially reduce employee costs by changing terms and conditions for many legacy crew. The airline has entered into consultation with trade unions who have described the redundancy threat as “irresponsible, dangerous and destructive”.
Since 2010, British Airways has rather uniquely had three different types of cabin crew based at its main hub at Heathrow airport:
- Worldwide cabin crew
- EuroFleet cabin crew
- and Mixed Fleet cabin crew
Both Worldwide and EuroFleet crew are on legacy contracts and enjoy better terms and conditions than their Mixed Fleet colleagues. The Mixed Fleet group was formed in 2010 when British Airways faced another financial crunch and unions rejected a bid by the airline to cut the wages of legacy crew.
In 2017, the Unite trade union claimed Mixed Fleet cabin crew earned “poverty pay” and said some staffers even had to sleep in their cars because they couldn’t afford to drive home or get a hotel room between flights. A deal was eventually reached between the two sides and Unite agreed to make no further mention of “poverty pay”.
Not only do Mixed Fleet crew earn significantly less than their legacy contracts but they also work both short-haul and long-haul flights, with a streamlined management structure and a higher turnover rate that keeps costs low.
The new single fleet will see all cabin crew working short and long-haul flights, with fewer ranks and a lower, simplified pay structure. Old style contracts that detail benefits and work rules will also be ripped up and instead BA will work to the minimum required by national and international safety regulators.
Yesterday, BA’s chief executive Alex Cruz told staffers in an open letter that “there is no Government bailout standing by for BA and we cannot expect the taxpayer to offset salaries indefinitely.”
“Any money we borrow now will only be short-term and will not address the longer-term challenges we will face,” Cruz continued.
Len McCluskey, general secretary of the Unite union lashed out at British Airways and Cruz, describing the threat of job losses as heartless. McCluskey accused Cruz of refusing government assistance in a bid to force other airlines into bankruptcy so that BA can profit in the future.
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.