BA pilots to vote on new short-haul subsidiary at Gatwick

The airline plans to base up to 17 short-haul planes at UK’s second-biggest airport from next summer

British Airways pilots are to vote on whether to back a proposed new subsidiary at Gatwick, which the airline says will be a full-service, BA-branded carrier.

The airline plans to base up to 17 short-haul planes at the UK’s second-biggest airport from next summer, but insists it needs to have a lower cost base to compete with budget rivals such as easyJet, which is dominant at Gatwick.

BA has not flown from Gatwick since the start of the pandemic. It made thousands of workers redundant and issued inferior contracts to remaining staff last year as it suffered record losses, with passenger numbers dwindling under Covid travel restrictions. Gatwick employees had long retained traditional terms and conditions that BA had removed from crew joining at Heathrow from 2011.

According to BA, its Gatwick short-haul business was not profitable even at the peak of flying in 2019. In a statement, the airline said: “While we want to restart flying short-haul from Gatwick, we will only do this if we have a competitive and sustainable operating cost base.

“From a customer experience perspective, the new airline will be British Airways branded and customers will continue to benefit from the same full standard of service that they currently receive from us, alongside competitive fares.

“These two principles are at the heart of our proposals for a short-haul operation which are subject to ongoing union discussions and a Balpa ballot.”

Balpa, the pilots’ union, has recommended that its members back the plan in a consultative ballot. BA argues that it will protect more jobs at Gatwick, although terms and conditions for staff are likely to be largely reduced from pre-pandemic levels.

The airline has made clear it is not launching a “no-frills” service after recent speculation led to derision from Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary, who described the venture as “the very definition of insanity”.

Contributor

Gwyn Topham

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
BA abandons plans for short-haul subsidiary airline at Gatwick
Proposals for BA-branded subsidiary ditched after pilots refuse to back deal between airline and union

Gwyn Topham Transport correspondent

23, Sep, 2021 @1:20 PM

Article image
Gatwick BA cabin crew face big pay cuts or redundancy
Anger as Unite union accuses British Airways of ‘holding a gun’ to employees through job restructuring

Gwyn Topham Transport correspondent

06, Sep, 2015 @6:22 PM

Article image
Why are British Airways pilots going on strike for the first time?
Reasons cited include pay dispute, cost-cutting policies and loss of confidence in management

Gwyn Topham Transport correspondent

06, Sep, 2019 @11:59 AM

Article image
Gatwick airport hit by £343m loss as passenger numbers fall
Revenues plunge by 61%, with Covid-19 continuing to take toll on aviation industry

Mark Sweney

28, Aug, 2020 @7:30 AM

Article image
British Airways should come clean about computer chaos
With two check-in meltdowns last year the airline must have known there were bugs in the system that needed fixing

Patrick Collinson

30, May, 2017 @5:52 PM

Article image
British Airways cabin crew to hold four-day strike over pay dispute
Industrial action planned for mid-June adds to airline’s troubles in wake of IT failure that left 75,000 passengers stranded

Gwyn Topham Transport correspondent

02, Jun, 2017 @5:59 PM

Article image
Post-election indecision will halt airport expansion in south-east, says BA boss
Willie Walsh also warns cost of three competing runway schemes at Heathrow and Gatwick are a political barrier

Gwyn Topham Transport correspondent

30, Apr, 2015 @1:27 PM

Article image
British Airways pilots to vote on deal to cut jobs and pay
Proposed agreement between union and BA involves at least 270 job losses and up to 20% cuts in pay

Gwyn Topham

23, Jul, 2020 @9:56 AM

Article image
British Airways: 'glitch' delays flights at Heathrow and Gatwick
Airline rebooking passengers on alternative flights after latest ‘technical issue’

Gwyn Topham

21, Nov, 2019 @11:27 AM

Article image
British Airways to cut Gatwick operation and lay off 1130 pilots
Over 1100 cabin crew jobs also to go, and suspension of remaining Heathrow flights ‘not ruled out’

Gwyn Topham

30, Apr, 2020 @8:52 PM