The union that represents pilots at British Airways has categorically denied reports that it has reached a deal with the airline that would result in 650 pilots losing their jobs. In a short Tweet, the BALPA union said reports of the deal which first appeared in The Sun were “false” and confirmed talks with the airline were continuing.
The newspaper claimed 350 pilots would face being made permanently redundant, while another 300 pilots would be placed into a ‘holding pool’ and would be brought back by the airline once the demand for air travel resumes in a post-COVID world. Redundancies will not be based on seniority at the request of the union.
Under the leaked proposals, the majority of forced redundancies would be Gatwick-based pilots. British Airways has threatened to quit London’s second airport altogether and instead concentrate its operation at its hub at Heathrow Airport. No final decision on the fate of BA’s presence at Gatwick has yet been announced.
The pilots to be placed in a holding pool would be Captains and First Officer’s who are type-rated to operate an aircraft that won’t be used by British Airways for some time. It’s believed that the majority of these pilots would be Boeing 747 trained crew. British Airways is considering early retirement of the iconic “Queen of the Skies” because it is so fuel-inefficient.
Pilots in the holding pool would, however, remain on half-pay. It’s expected they could need to wait for up to two years for a position to become available.
Flight crew who get to keep their jobs would take a temporary 15 per cent pay cut, which would be halved to a permanent 7.5 per cent reduction in wages once the Corona crisis is over.
British Airways had originally proposed a total of 955 pilot job losses before upping that figure to 1,080 redundancies earlier this month. At the time, BALPA’s general secretary Brian Strutton said talks with British Airways were “hanging by a thread” after the airline issued a controversial ‘fire and rehire’ clause. The legal consultation process will end on July 18.
BALPA has, until now, been the only union representing British Airways workers to negotiate with the airline over proposed mass redundancies prompted by the Coronavirus pandemic. Strutton said lawmakers were right to publish a recent report that branded the airline a “national disgrace” over its treatment of workers.
However, the union said it would continue negotiating in the hope that it could settle on a voluntary severance package.
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.