The British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) has announced that British Airways (BA) pilots have accepted a deal that will temporarily cut pay by 20% and remove 270 jobs.
Pilots’ union BALPA said the deal offered to BA pilots will prevent a controversial “fire-and-rehire” scheme where employees would have been handed new contracts “on worse conditions”.
BA pilot deal
Under the deal, the 20% pay cuts will be lowered to 8% over two years and to zero in the long term. Voting results revealed that 85% of BALPA members accept the deal on an 87% turnout.
BALPA general secretary Brian Strutton said: “Our members have made a pragmatic decision in the circumstances, but the fact that we were unable to persuade BA to avoid all compulsory redundancies is bitterly disappointing.”
Originally, BA proposed to make 12,000 jobs redundant, including 1,255 pilot jobs, due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on air travel demand.
The pilots’ union mentioned that there would still be some compulsory redundancies, around 270 jobs, but this number is “likely to fall” as the union continues to work with the airline to reduce the impact of the changes.
Trade union Unite threatened industrial action against BA on July 28 “with immediate effect” over its plans to give staff their notice and then rehire them on new contracts with unfavorable terms.
Negotiations surrounding other BA employees, including cabin crew, engineers and office staff, are still ongoing.
Troubles at British Airways
In mid-July, the British airline announced that said it will retire its entire Boeing 747 fleet due to the sharp decline in air travel amidst the coronavirus pandemic. BA is the world’s largest operator of the 747 jumbo jets, having 31 aircraft in its fleet.
A spokesman for the airline said: “It is with great sadness that we can confirm we are proposing to retire our entire 747 fleet with immediate effect.”
“It is unlikely our magnificent ‘queen of the skies’ will ever operate commercial services for British Airways again due to the downturn in travel caused by the Covid-19 global pandemic,” the spokesman continued.
The International Airlines Group (IAG)-owned carrier said the planes, which comprise around 10% of its entire fleet, will all be retired with immediate effect.
The UK airline originally planned to retire the 747 planes in 2024 but the travel downturn due to the pandemic forced it to undertake this earlier.
Last week, IAG, which owns both British Airways and Iberia, announced that it will raise up to €2.75 billion from shareholders, including Qatar Airways to help alleviate the effect of coronavirus pandemic on the airline industry.
The funds to be raised by IAG will be used to pay down debt and increase the amount of cash it holds, in preparation of several years of slow demand.
Currently, IAG’s largest shareholder is Qatar Airways, with a 25.1% stake in the company. IAG claimed that Qatar’s state-owned carrier will support the capital increase, implying it will provide almost €688 million in new funds.
In a statement, IAG said: “Qatar Airways … has confirmed its support for the proposed capital increase and irrevocably undertaken to subscribe for its pro rata entitlement.” Qatar is seeking two seats on the IAG board.