British Airways sets short-term base in Madrid to beat staff shortages
British Airways (BA) could set up a short-haul base in Madrid to beat the staff shortages that force it to axe 1,400 flights over the last few weeks.
The airline said it will open a cabin crew base in the Spanish capital and hire staff locally to avoid putting passengers through further travel disruption.
Under the proposal, the base will remain in service for the short-term to ramp up operations ahead of the summer season.
“We are looking at a range of temporary options to ensure we can support our customers this summer as we ramp our operation back up,” a BA spokesperson said.
Despite having short-haul centres in places such as Hong Kong, the move represents a first in the carrier’s history as BA’s short-haul base has always been London.
According to Francesco Ragni, aviation lecturer at Buckinghamshire New University, the decision raises questions.
“It’s a tactical move and a logical one, but it raises questions,” he told City A.M.
“Where have the former BA employees gone and why aren’t they coming back?”
The move comes a couple of weeks after the airline was reportedly “luring” cabin crew away from rivals with a £1,000 welcome bonus, City A.M. reported.
Following Covid-induced staff shortages, BA said recently it was looking for cabin crew “with attestation and hold a current Heathrow or Stansted airside ID,” who could start working before the summer.
According to the job description, the extra £1,000 will be given into two tranches – a first £500 after three months and the second one “after six months into the role.”
Alongside easyJet, BA was one of the airlines worst hit by travel disruption throughout the Easter period.
Since the beginning of April, the carrier was forced to drop hundreds of flights as it didn’t have enough personnel to process the post-pandemic boom in demand.
EU as well as domestic routes were the most affected, City A.M. reported.
To avoid mayhem as the sector ramps up ahead of the busy summer season, the airline announced on Friday it was cancelling flights to Miami, Hong Kong and Tokyo.
It told City A.M. the Hong Kong route was cancelled because of Covid restrictions, while services to Miami would be operated by American Airlines.