British Airways has seemingly confirmed plans that it is considering temporarily closing the airline’s global headquarters near Heathrow Airport. The sprawling 114,000 square metre site known as Waterside is made up of 14 buildings built along a 175-metre long indoor street where 4,000 staffers would normally socialise and hold informal meetings according to the building’s architects Neils Torp.
Sources who are said to be familiar with the matter claim offices could be mothballed for at least six months with the building set to lay dormant in only a matter of weeks. Most head office staff have been working from home since the UK went into lockdown on March 23 and will be expected to continue working remotely despite government calls for employers to get workers back to the office.
For those staff who can’t work from home, alternative office space is set to be opened up at buildings British Airways already owns around Heathrow Airport. Some will be relocated to Terminal 5, while others might be moved to an engineering base on the edge of the airport where training already takes place.
“We are exploring every option to control our costs,” a spokesperson for the airline said when asked about the plans. “We have a large property estate and we are always seeking ways to manage it in the optimum way.”
Yesterday, British Airways sold a multi-million-pound art collection that had been hanging in Waterside and the airline’s lounges at Heathrow as part of continuing efforts to slash costs and raise much-needed funds. Bridget Riley’s ‘Cool Edge’ sold at Sotheby’s for £1.87 million on Tuesday – 36 per cent more than the upper estimate for the 1982 piece.
The entire collection contains 1,200 pieces including works by Damien Hirst, Marc Quinn and Julian Opie.
The sale, however, is unlikely to make much of a dent on the estimated £20 million daily cash burn reported by the embattled airline. Plans to cut its biggest expense – its employees – have faced fierce criticism from lawmakers and the unions that represent many workers. The cabin crew union said it planned to move towards possible strike action with immediate effects after talks stalled.
Completed in 1998 and at a cost of £200 million, Waterside is set to be demolished within the next few years if Heathrow ever gets final approval to build a third runway. Plans for the extra runway would run right through Waterside.
Courtesy Head for Points
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.