British Airways pilots have made a “pragmatic” decision to accept a temporary 20 per cent pay cut in order to save nearly 1,000 of their colleagues from being made redundant said Brian Strutton, head of BALPA pilots union on Friday night. Pilots voted in favour of the deal by 85 per cent after being given just one week to cast their ballot on the proposals which will cut the number of potential redundancies from 1,255 to just 270.
As British Airways pushes through plans to slash employee costs in the wake of the devastating impact of the Corona crisis, the airline had threatened to ‘fire and rehire’ pilots on lesser terms and conditions if the union didn’t agree to its proposals. In the end, BALPA negotiated temporary measures that will save the majority of BA’s 4,300 pilot workforce being laid off.
Under the deal, pilots will take an immediate 20 per cent pay, reducing to 8 per cent over the next two years and “towards zero” at some point in the longer term. That pay cut will help fund a ‘holding pool’ of 300 pilots who will be paid a reduced salary until demand picks up and they are able to start flying again.
In addition, pilots have also voted in favour of part-time working arrangements and secondments to the Royal Air Force to reduce the need for lay-offs. A voluntary redundancy package also proved popular with many long-serving pilots already leaving the airline in the last few weeks.
Strutton previously said the deal was “the best that can be achieved in these incredibly difficult circumstances,” but the union remains disappointed that BA wouldn’t accept other voluntary measures that could have reduced to need to redundancies to almost zero.
Hopes that a deal with the pilots union would translate to improved voluntary offers for cabin crew and ground staff, however, appear to be dashed. British Airways is set to press ahead with plans to axe as many as 13,000 roles, with most workers finding out whether they will be laid off from next Friday.
So far, 1,600 employees have opted to take voluntary redundancy, although last-minute talks are said to be continuing this weekend in a last-ditch effort to reduce the need to make involuntary redundancies. British Airways recently told cabin crew it would be able to save “many hundreds” of jobs by asking all crew to take at least a month of unpaid leave.
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.