MPs have hit out at the “appalling” way British Airways has treated its staff during the pandemic.
Several MPs from both government and opposition benches criticised how the airline had dealt with making 12,000 redundances over the past few months.
While Willie Walsh, chief executive of BA’s parent company IAG, was criticised for “skipping off” into retirement with a bonus of £833,000 earlier this week.
Conservative MP Greg Smith told a House of Commons debate on the aviation sector: “British Airways have behaved appallingly throughout this crisis. British Airways really need to take a cold hard look in the mirror.”
Labour MP Ian Byrne added: “British Airways has responded to the pandemic by firing all of its 42,000 staff and rehiring those that survive – around 30,000 - with some facing lost income of up to 55-75%.”
Byrne also pointed that BA had taken out £200 million in government-backed coronavirus business loans, as well as £100 million in furlough payments.
Shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon said BA’s behaviour had been “outrageous” towards its “loyal” long-serving staff.
There were also suggestions from MPs that BA should lose airport slots and even be banned from using its traditional red, white and blue livery.
Newly appointed aviation minister Richard Courts told the Commons that he would not talk about individual airlines but stressed the “very significant amount of taxpayer support” the aviation industry has received from the government since the start of the pandemic.
Conservative MP Huw Merriman, chairman of the House of Commons’ transport committee, called for changes to the way airline slots are allocated after the Covid-19 crisis to allow more competition.
“I would like to see the way we allocate slots at our airports changed quite dramatically,” added Merriman. “I would like to see new entrants in the market and slots auctioned to see more competition.
“I urge the government to look at the competition argument for slot reallocation.”