BA to rehire some of the thousands of workers made redundant during pandemic
British Airways plans to rehire some of the thousands of workers made redundant last year as the airline industry begins an attempt to recover from the pandemic.
Unite, the union, says the airline is looking to rehire around 3,000 new cabin crew after cutting around 10,000 jobs, a third of its workforce, last spring and summer when the Covid crisis -19 had immobilized most of its planes on the ground.
BA has not confirmed how many employees will be taken over, but has started offering new cabin crew jobs starting next summer, according to an internal email seen by the Financial Times.
As the industry begins to fly on a large scale again, staff who voluntarily laid off last year but requested to be placed in a “talent pool” to be called when the industry recovered are now being contacted.
The email to BA staff said the easing of travel restrictions between the UK and the US had been a “major step” for the industry.
“Finally, we’re starting to see real momentum as more countries open up to travel and consumer confidence grows,” the email said.
But Unite sharply criticized the airline, which it said was acting “in bad faith”, offering to rehire staff with pay significantly lower than in their previous roles.
“BA defends its intention to recruit thousands of new employees, even insultingly asking team members it needlessly sacked last year to reapply on significantly reduced terms,” the union said. .
Other airlines have also started to rebuild their workforce.
Virgin Atlantic, which has created a similar pool of cabin crews and licensed pilots, has started to rehire, while Ryanair has announced a campaign to recruit aspiring pilots.
Although nearly all airlines cut their workforce significantly in the past year, BA has drawn particular criticism for its handling of employee relations.
This included a threat, which was never enacted, to “fire and rehire” staff with lower pay in addition to thousands of layoffs.
News of the new hires came as the airline stood ready to restart plans to operate a short-haul service out of Gatwick if pilots agreed to the new terms and conditions.
Hopes of a new subsidiary with a lower cost base were dropped earlier this month when Balpa, the pilots’ union, voted on the plans.
But Balpa has since reached a new deal with BA, and held a second ballot among its members, with results due Thursday.
BA’s new hires and potential new Gatwick subsidiary reflect how airline bosses will seek to rebuild their workforce and operations while cementing the massive cost savings achieved during the pandemic.
“As we begin our recovery from an unprecedented and unpredictable 18-month crisis that has seen us restructure our business to survive, we are starting to rebuild our schedule for next summer,” BA said in a statement.