British Airways is preparing to axe even more flights from its schedule over the next few months as the airline’s chief executive Sean Doyle warned that “Britain is heading into a summer of discontent”.
The decision to slash more flights was made before two unions representing around 700 check-in agents and ground staff at its Heathrow hub announced potential strike dates after workers voted overwhelmingly in support of industrial action in a bid to claw back pandemic pay cuts.
British Airways had already been forced to significantly reduce its planned summer timetable owing to staffing woes but Doyle said more services would now be axed after so-called ‘use it or lose it’ slot rules were put on hold by the UK government.
The Department for Transport issued an airport slot rules amnesty earlier this week to give airlines the freedom to proactively cancel flights that they had no hope of operating due to staffing shortages in advance and give passengers notice that their flight would be disrupted.
Ministers feared that unless the slot rules were eased that airlines would be forced to cancel flights at short notice.
Doyle said the airline was looking to cancel flights “that will have the least impact on our customers”. According to an internal memo, this will disproportionately affect routes which are served by several flights per day.
Speaking for the first time about the threat of highly disruptive strike action, Doyle told staffers that “it’s clear Britain is heading into a summer of discontent” and that the strike vote was “extremely disappointing”.
“We’re committed to working together with the unions to try and find solutions,” Doyle said. “Along with doing everything we can to help our customers, our priority is to make sure colleagues feel well supported and informed during this period”.
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.