British Airways threatens to fire all pilots during union negotiations

Airlines around the world are bleeding money at the moment, which means there are conversations ongoing with various parties, including their employees, about stemming the flow. Different approaches are being followed. However, the one being developed by British Airways looks to be very different than the others. British Airways Pilots seem to be in the firing line of the airline at the moment.

British Airways threatens BALPA of firing all pilots.

British Airways is trying to rightsize, and as a part of emerging a smaller airline, they intend to cut about 12,000 jobs at the airline. The airline has about 4,300 pilots, and the airline had planned to lay off 955 of those. But as per the latest communication emerging from the BALPA (British Airline Pilots Association), a body that represents most of the UK pilots, BA is now looking to lay off 1080 pilots, an increase of 125 from the previous number.

However, the most surprising part is that British Airways is looking to use the pandemic to change its terms of engagement with all pilots. According to the letter written by BALPA to all members which LFAL reviewed, BA has suggested that they will be taking extreme measures in the hope of a revised agreement with pilots.

“Crucially it states that if BA and BALPA are unable to reach an agreement, the company would seek to force changes by terminating the employment of all pilots and offering individuals new contracts with associated new terms and conditions. We cannot begin to describe the level of disappointment and annoyance this has caused.”

Pilots, once a hot commodity, are expensive hires, and airlines around the world are letting go many of them. However, nowhere else have I heard of the use of a pandemic to break them away from a union to make them independent offers at a much lower rate.

And not just that, British Airways has already planned to do the same manoeuvre with their cabin crew as well, under the garb of simplification. BA has different tiers of flight attendant contracts, and now BA wants to simplify them and make them all uniform at the lowest level, which means permanent pay cuts for the senior cabin crew who have put decades of service, earned their seniority and would now be earning 30-50% less if this proposal goes through.


While businesses around the world are trying to survive and airlines have been especially hit, British Airways is working against the trend to renegotiate employee contracts in a way we haven’t seen in the industry before. Airlines are asking for leeway from their employees, doing temporary pay cuts and so on, but to use this opportunity to squeeze them is something I haven’t seen before.

What do you think of the current state of affairs at British Airways?

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