Despite losing over a third of Heathrow-based cabin crew in a round of mass job losses, British Airways didn’t make any involuntarily redundant according to a new internal memo. The airline has, however, warned that more redundancies could be announced soon because the situation simply isn’t improving as had been expected.
Major competitor Virgin Atlantic has already announced additional job losses with 600 cabin crew set to lose their jobs out of a total of 1,150 jobs earmarked for redundancy by the embattled carrier.
Out of a total of just over 14,000 Heathrow-based cabin crew, British Airways had planned to cut its workforce by nearly 5,000 in response to the massive slump in demand caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and in spite of objections from the Unite cabin crew union.
It has now been revealed that uptake of a voluntary redundancy scheme was so high that British Airways didn’t have to make any compulsory redundancies. Longer serving cabin crew on higher-paying contracts were offered an enhanced severance payment, while so-called Mixed Fleet cabin crew who earn significantly less were only offered statutory redundancy.
The memo did not provide a break down of how many crew from each fleet opted to take voluntary redundancy. Hundreds of cabin crew based at Gatwick airport were made involuntarily redundant and CityFlyer crew based in Edinburgh who chose not to relocate to London were also laid-off against their will.
Negotiations with the Unite union over new terms and conditions continue. The two sides have been at loggerheads for months over the redundancy and cost-cutting plans, with Unite accusing British Airways of “betraying Britain”.
The union claims some veteran cabin crew face a pay cut of as much as 50 per cent. That massive reduction in salary, as well as proposed changes to terms and conditions, could have contributed to many longer-serving cabin crew who may have already been approaching retirement to opt for voluntary redundancy.
Cabin crew who remain at the airline could, however, could still be at risk of redundancy. British Airways has warned staffers that the situation isn’t yet improving with North America still effectively closed and frequent quarantine rule changes making it impossible for many people to make travel plans.
Last week, Virgin Atlantic said it needed to make one more “painful” round of redundancies after already laying-off over 3,000 employees. Virgin also blamed quarantine rules and the travel restrictions in the United States for its continued woes.
British Airways made around 270 pilots involuntarily redundant despite pilots agreeing to wage cuts of up to 20 per cent to mitigate any job losses.
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.