Pilots give British Airways the green light on restarting of Gatwick operations
The British Airlines Pilots Association (Balpa), which represents more than 16,000 UK pilots, has signed off a new agreement with British Airways (BA), after union members agreed to back up the establishment of a British Airways’ subsidiary operating from Gatwick airport.
“Balpa and British Airways have concluded an important new agreement covering revised pay and working hours for British Airways pilots operating short-haul operations at Gatwick,” said the union’s acting general secretary Martin Chalk. “This agreement is now BA’s preferred option in relation to the future of short-haul operations at Gatwick.”
BA will now need to consult other stakeholders before relaunching operations. “We will continue discussions with our colleagues, trade unions, suppliers and other stakeholders, following this positive result, and if we can agree a way forward with all parties, we would hope to begin operations next summer.,” commented a BA spokesperson.
Balpa’s ballot is the second to take place in the space of a month, after the union initially voted against British Airways’ plan for competing with low-cost carriers such as Easyjet and Ryanair. Union members initially motivated their decisions in terms of not being able to reach an acceptable agreement with the carrier.
“Balpa remains open to future negotiations with British Airways to address our members’ concerns with the proposal for LGW short-haul or about any other part of the business,” commented Chalk at the time.
After receiving the ballot’s vote, the airline decided to scrap most of its Gatwick operations, which had not been running since March 2020 because of Covid-19.
“After many years of losing money on European flights from the airport, we were clear that coming out of the pandemic, we needed a plan to make Gatwick profitable and competitive,” said a BA spokesperson.
“With regret, we will now suspend our short-haul operations at Gatwick, with the exception of a small number of domestic services connecting to our long-haul operation, and will pursue alternative uses for the London Gatwick short-haul slots.”
The union decided to go back to the negotiating table in late September, bringing to its members the amended proposal on 4 October. “While we have been actively pursuing alternative uses for our slots, last week BALPA asked us to resume discussions,” said a BA spokesperson on 4 October.
“These talks were constructive, addressed key concerns and have secured the efficiencies required. Balpa is now taking a new proposal to its members.”
BA refused to comment on the details of the initial as well as the amended proposal.