British Airways has opened a ‘voluntary leavers scheme’ to cabin crew based at Heathrow Airport, although the airline isn’t in the process of shrinking and has, in fact, just embarked on a massive new recruitment drive with the hopes of hiring 4,000 new cabin crew.
According to sources, the airline has only tabled an offer that just surpasses the absolute minimum statutory redundancy payout.
Under UK law, companies who make employees redundant must offer 1 week’s pay for each full year worked between the ages of 22 and 41 and 1.5 weeks pay for each full year worked from age 41 and above. Any years worked under the age of 22 get an entitlement of just half a week’s pay for every full year paid.
That entitlement is, however, capped at a maximum of 19 full years of service. British Airways is offering a voluntary buyout capped at just 20 full years of service.
It’s unclear whether BA will attempt to sweeten the deal with access to generous concessionary travel perks or healthcare benefits.
Whatever the reason for offering voluntary redundancy, the timing does appear odd. Last week, British Airways started a massive new cabin crew recruitment drive with plans to hire as many as 4,000 new crew members over the next few months.
Although the buyout is being offered to all Heathrow-based crew members, observers can’t help but wonder whether British Airways is hoping that highly experienced veteran crew members will take up the offer.
During the pandemic, British Airways was shamed by the media and lawmakers for its treatment of long-serving crew members after it convinced many to take redundancy while slashing the pay of those who stayed.
In the aftermath of the pandemic, however, British Airways eventually agreed to restore the wages of its longest-serving cabin crew to a rate comparable to what they were on in 2019.
New hire cabin crew are paid a basic wage of just £20,000, although the airline boasts that crew members have the potential to earn up to £30,000 after taking into account a variety of allowance payments.
Interestingly, British Airways is encouraging experienced crew members to quit just as the airline is building back experience levels following the mass redundancies during the pandemic.
Like many airlines, British Airways has struggled with experience levels in recent years to the detriment of inflight service. Last year, two hew-hire crew members accidentally deployed the emergency exit slide on two different planes in mysterious circumstances.
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.