British Airways is to dodge post-Brexit immigration rules that prevent most EU nationals from coming to live and work in the UK by opening a second cabin crew base in Spain from where crew will work short-haul flights across Europe.
The beleaguered airline opened a ‘temporary’ cabin crew base in Madrid earlier this summer in an attempt to ease a staffing crunch at its main Heathrow hub and is now looking to expand its presence in Spain with a second base in Barcelona.
Officially, British Airways says it has no shortage of potential cabin crew recruits in the UK but blames the bureaucracy of a “complex and onerous referencing process” for slowing down the recruitment process.
As a result, the airline says it has hundreds of new cabin crew waiting in the wings to start training but they are being held up by government-controlled security vetting checks which are taking 100 days on average to process.
British Airways confirmed plans to open its first cabin crew base in Madrid back in May as part of a temporary project to relieve staffing issues in the UK. The base currently employs just 40 cabin crew but BA intends to double its size and open a second base in the Catalonian capital.
The airline insists both bases are a temporary solution to an acute staffing problem but the Spanish cabin crew will be retained on contracts for the winter season which runs from October 2022 to April 2023.
Spanish-based crew should be indistinguishable from any other member of British Airways cabin crew and they will work alongside their Heathrow-based colleagues. For now, Spanish crew will only be trained on Airbus A320 series aircraft which operate short-haul services.
All of the crew will have previously worked for other airlines within the Madrid-based IAG Group which owns British Airways.
The bosses of easyJet and Ryanair have both blamed post-Brexit immigration rules for staffing issues affecting their UK operations this year because it is now so hard for Europeans to come to Britain to work.
Earlier this year, the chief executive of Jet2 was forced to deny newspaper reports in which he was quoted as saying that recruitment challenges were a result of “lazy Brits who live off benefits and sit on their arses”.
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.