British Airways appears to have stepped back from its “fire and rehire” threat to staff, following an appearance by chief executive Alex Cruz in parliament.
A vote on new terms and conditions is likely this week and the carrier is also in talks to put Gatwick staff on unpaid leave as it prepares for the winter season.
Cruz told parliament’s transport committee: “We have reached agreements with unions in principle,which will mean there will be no need whatsoever to issue new contracts… there will be amendments to existing contracts.”
He said he hoped “the majority” of the negotiation process would finish this week.
Cruz said BA’s passenger numbers as a whole last week totalled 187,000, compared with just less than a million in the same week in 2019.
“So we are running between 25 and 30% of the normal flight schedule.”
He said Gatwick was especially affected. “Gatwick is primarily leisure and extremely seasonal, there is a huge dip in winter; we’ve consulted with unions about seven weeks’ unpaid leave.”
Fewer flights, he said, needed fewer people to service them. “I cannot ignore the situation, I had to act fast.”
Cruz said the airline would be able to keep its slots at London’s airports over the winter and would plan for next summer.
“It’s premature to share conclusions; there are none,” he said.
“The fact remains that people are still afraid of travelling and we are having weekly changes to the quarantine list and we don’t have testing yet. We do not see a short-term coming back of our passengers.”