British Airways hails ‘significant progress’ with unions on restructuring


British Airways has hailed “significant progress” in negotiations with unions over its controversial plan to restructure its business as the airline fights to survive the crisis ravaging the aviation industry.

In a letter to staff on Tuesday, chief executive Alex Cruz said the carrier had signed an agreement in principle with the unions on the future of part of its workforce, following the sharp drop in flights this year due to the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting restrictions internationally. Trip.

The agreement does not apply to cabin crew, but covers engineers and Heathrow staff who work in roles such as check-in and ticketing, and extends to staffing levels and changes in flight practices. work such as the introduction of more flexible work models.

Ground staff in contact with customers at Heathrow will no longer face compulsory dismissal, although engineers could still suffer forced job losses.

“I am happy to report that we have made significant progress,” Cruz wrote in the letter, which was seen by the Financial Times.

Cruz said the deal “will save jobs and lessen the impact of layoffs.”

Neither union was immediately available for comment.

British Airways is cutting up to 12,000 jobs, nearly a third of its workforce, as it struggles to adapt its business to the severe aviation recession, which it expects to endure at least over the course of the next few years.

More than 6,000 people have requested voluntary layoffs, BA said, which will help reduce the number of mandatory job cuts.

The airline operates less than 20% of its schedule compared to last year and is burning £ 20million a day. Although there has been an increase in short-haul travel following the introduction of UK government travel lanes aimed at rejuvenating the summer holiday season, BA is still largely cut off from lucrative markets, including including the United States.

BA pilots struck a deal last month on pay cuts and layoffs that helped reduce the number of mandatory job losses from 1,255 to 270, out of a total of 4,300 pilots.

But the airline had struggled to come to an agreement with Unite and GMB unions on other parts of its sprawling workforce, including cabin crew.

Thousands of employees have started receiving letters informing them of their dismissal, of the obligation to sign a new contract with lower pay, or to keep their jobs with the same contract.

Unions have strongly criticized the airline’s plans to “fire and rehire” some low-wage workers, although BA says the new proposals would mean more than 40 percent of its staff would in fact receive a wage increase of based.

“I hope we will make the same progress that we have made in other areas,” Cruz wrote in the letter.

The scale of the cuts has sparked political controversy, but Willie Walsh, chief executive of BA owner, IAG, said the airline was “fighting for its survival.”


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