Coronavirus: BA undermining job talks, says pilots’ union

Airlines have been hit hard by the coronavirus lockdowns. Photo: GUILLAUME SOUVANT/AFP via Getty Images

Pilots' union Balpa accused British Airways of jeopardising discussions over proposed job cuts, the BBC reports, after the airline said it will fire its entire pilot workforce and rehire them under new terms and conditions, should no agreement be reached with the union.

Balpa has been meeting with the company, unlike some unions such as Unite and GMB, which BA says have refused to enter talks. But Balpa’s general secretary Brian Strutton said discussions are now under jeopardy.

"Balpa reps have been in consultation with BA over its proposed 1,130 pilot job losses and we've been doing that constructively and in good faith," Strutton said in a statement.

"Then, on Wednesday evening, a letter from BA added another 125 job losses and also for the first time threatened all 4,300 BA pilots with dismissal and reengagement if we did not reach agreement on changes to terms and conditions.

"I'm appalled at the cavalier attitude shown by BA towards the Balpa reps and to its pilots,” Strutton said.

"This has seriously undermined our talks which now hang by a thread."

Earlier, in a statement Strutton called on the government to help the aviation industry, because he claimed “it is blindingly obvious that individual airlines will plot a path out of this that only suits their shareholders.” 

READ MORE: BA, Ryanair, easyJet protest over 'wholly unjustified' UK quarantine plan

BA parent IAG (IAG.L) wrote a letter to Parliament last week outlining the challenges the company faces and defending a proposal to make 12,000 BA staff redundant. This was after the transport minister criticised airlines such as BA for making use of the government’s job retention scheme to pay employees but then also threatening them with redundancy.

Willie Walsh, CEO of BA's parent company IAG, said: "There are some who believe the company is exaggerating the scale of the challenge. Nothing could be further from the truth. The situation is unprecedented."

“British Airways had hoped to operate about 40% of our scheduled flights in July but this has been torpedoed by the introduction of the 14-day quarantine period for people arriving into the UK. British Airways is not generating any revenues and continues to burn through approximately £20m ($25.3m) of cash a day. The current situation is not sustainable,” he added.

Meanwhile, BA, Easyjet and Ryanair have begun legal proceedings to protest its "wholly unjustified and disproportionate" quarantine rules for most international arrivals, a copy of the letter seen by Reuters showed.

They sent a pre-action letter, which is the first stage in a judicial review, to ministers on 5 June ahead of the measures coming into effect on 8 June.

READ MORE: Airlines handed £1.8 billion in emergency coronavirus loans