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EXCLUSIVE: the new British Airways cabin crew pay offer revealed – substantial cuts for legacy crew

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British Airways has just given cabin crew details of the new contract and pay package for staff at London Heathrow which they must accept if they wish to remain with the airline.

It is VERY grim reading for legacy Eurofleet and Worldwide crew members, many of whom will have to accept a substantial pay cut of up to 50% if they wish to remain.

the new British Airways cabin crew pay offer revealed

What is the new British Airways cabin crew package?

BA is promising an OTE package of £24,000 for standard crew.   This comprises basic pay, flight pay and other allowances.

There is the potential for extra income on top, such as commission from in-flight sales.  There is a contributory pension scheme and optional health and insurance benefits.

It is worth noting that the unions have often claimed that British Airways ‘OTE’ figures are more than the majority of crew receive.  For example, the £24,000 figure includes the allowance that crews receive to pay for food in hotels whilst travelling.

Initial feedback is that even existing Mixed Fleet crew will be taking a cut in overall pay and benefits on this new contract although the exact figures are not available.

The contract allow for 30 days of annual leave, but this includes public holidays.  The equivalent for an office worker would be 22 days holiday, given that there are eight public holidays each year.

For clarity, there will be no ‘zero hours’ contracts offered.

New British Airways cabin crew contract

What grades are available?

The new structure has only two grades.  A substantial number of existing senior crew members will be required to downgrade to the level of ‘basic’ crew if they wish to remain.

  • Manager – leading a team of up to 21 cabin crew members
  • Cabin crew – standard crew roles

Some short-haul flights will have no managers on board.

Managerial crew must be willing to take on standard cabin crew roles on certain flights if required.

Crew must agree to work in departure and turnaround roles inside Heathrow if required.

What aircraft will be flown?

All cabin crew will fly a mix of long-haul and short-haul services.  

This will force many existing legacy crew members to resign.  Eurofleet (Heathrow short-haul crew) are unlikely to want to move to spending large amounts of time away from home.  Worldwide (Heathrow long-haul crew) are often based outside London – some even live abroad – and commute to London for each of their 3-4 monthly flights.  This lifestyle is not possible if a short-haul requirement is added.

One upside of combining the fleets is that those who remain will be able to bid for flights across the entire network.  At the moment Heathrow crew are restricted to the routes allocated to their particular fleet, ie Mixed Fleet, Eurofleet or Worldwide.

All crew will be licenced on the A320 and Boeing 777/787 family, with an additional third type on top – either A380, A350 or Boeing 747.

Conclusion

In general, this is what we expected to see – and, for legacy Heathrow crew, it isn’t pretty.  I would expect the majority of Eurofleet and Worldwide crew, who by definition have at least 10 years of British Airways service, to refuse to accept the new contracts.  Most will find it financially or logistically impossible to continue.

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Comments (505)

  • Derek Scott says:

    Strike times ahead methinks

    • TGLoyalty says:

      What use is a strike when planes aren’t flying in any case.

      BA are using this situation to their advantage to get rid of “legacy” staff. Not great behaviour at a time when everyone needs to pull together.

    • Rob says:

      Mixed Fleet won’t strike – they are worse off but not massively so and most only stay a couple of years anyway. As long as BA isn’t flying more than 40% of its normal services, Mixed Fleet will do.

    • Ian says:

      Nonsense! BA has been very astute here…if 50% of cabin cre strike it will make zero difference to BA. When are they likely to be running more than 50% of their pre-lockdown schedule?

    • Derek Scott says:

      To clarify, I don’t believe in Strikes. We’re not in the ‘70’s. But the bullish mentality of the Unions has always been to go in this direction, and they’ll do whatever they think is necessary to force BA into a retreat of the current proposal/ position.

      I feel sorry for the crew and surprised BA doesn’t take a more balanced approach of raising MF salaries, to strike a balance, attract and retain quality staff and still maintain a competitive edge service-wise. There’s no gain from losing a vast amount of loyal and long experience. Other industries have learned to offer good packages, to build and expand loyalty, experience, knowledge and enhanced service. I despair at some of the decisions BA have made over the years at the expense of colleague engagement, which will always seep into the customer experience.

      Happy workforce means happy customers and better bottom line

  • Euan says:

    I’ve regularly seen crew on their commute flights from GLA or EDI down to LHR, it’s a shame that BA hasn’t provided for those having to commute from outwith London. I imagine anyone willing to commute like that has a great passion and enthusiasm for the role adding to the service.

    • Kieran says:

      I’m not sure you could be much further from the truth. They are contracted to live within a certain distance from the airport – if they choose to live further away it’s a lifestyle choice and doesn’t mean they love the job anymore than someone who lives in Feltham.

      • Jack the lad says:

        Many staff were recruited from European cities in the late 90’s, and some staff were redeployed from the regional crew bases, and ground bases after 9/11 and the 08 financial crash.

      • Euan says:

        @Kieran. People willing to travel and pay for flights (which they have to) to get to work definitely have a passion for the job so I think you’re wrong. Having the ability to recruit only from the local area will reduce their talent pool and thus people who want the job less will be more likely to get it with reduced competition in the future.
        They are also not contracted to live a certain distance from the airport so you’re wrong on that too.

        • Alan says:

          Also who can blame them for not wanting to live in London with the extortionate property prices that brings?!

      • Brian W says:

        @Euan is correct, @Kieran is talking utter nonsense. I see BA and VS crew based in Scotland making their way to Heathrow on BA (and formerly Little Red) flights from GLA and EDI on a weekly basis for long haul duties, it’s very common. It’s clear they have a passion. I’m confident @Kieran doesn’t fly to GLA and EDI from the London Hubs weekly as I do (and will again post Covid!) or he wouldn’t make such a finger in the air comment.

        • Kevin says:

          That must be the same passion that people who pay £5-10k a year on an annual rail pass have for their jobs.

        • Margaret says:

          Yes. I’ve sat next to both BA and Virgin crew in economy on flights to London on a Sunday evening quite a few times. I wondered why Virgin crew were on BA, but now I know.

  • Journeying John says:

    At this point, let’s hope for mass resignation and BA realising the impossibility of operating without any crew…

    • Chrish says:

      Striking won’t work, but sick due to “Stress” might disrupt BA more than they realize especially if plane’s are about to take off

      • Mr(s) Entitled says:

        Anyone faking a mental illness lacks morality and should be fired on the spot. But yes, good point. Reflects well on you.

        As it is, BA are using the opportunity for maximum gain. Horrible for the employees. Hopefully consumers have long memories.

        • Doug M says:

          Someone halved your salary and makes the job very unattractive could well lead to stress.

          • J says:

            Yes, but I’m not convinced that is what Chrish was suggesting. I may be wrong though.

          • Mr(s) Entitled says:

            The link was between Stress and planes about to take off. The implication being maximum disruption equals maximum leverage.

            People with mental illness very often die. It is not trivial. It should not be faked any more than you would recommend someone signing off with Leukemia when it wasn’t real. Or maybe coughing on passengers? That would be a good one too.

            For what it is worth Doug, having been made redundant myself previously I have seen my salary drop by 100% so I know how I would react. Each of us live by our own code. I ensure I sleep well at night.

        • mvcvz says:

          Entitled by name,….

      • Chrish says:

        [email protected] Your not wrong, me i worked to live (not lived to work) saying that up to when i retired at 50 i had only 3 weeks off ill in 35 years and worked for 19 years last firm, 10 years before that and a few less than that. So the firms must have thought i was ok lol
        All that time i always refused to work overtime no mater what,
        some liked me some didn’t lol
        Always said i would retire at 50 planned for it and did, never looked back love retirement
        but did i care about any work no
        I Always refused any contract other than the one i started at each firm
        So yes no morals but must have had a good work ethic to not have been sacked
        as a addition late 3 times in 35 years as well
        i bet not many can say that

      • Lady London says:

        Nah @ChrisH someone has said BA has got that covered by insisting staff be available on standby waiting at or near the airport to find out if they might be called (and paid) that day, or not.

    • insider says:

      why would the Mixed Fleet crew resign? It doesn’t appear to be far from their quoted current salaries, and more practically, who would want to resign now with few prospects for another job?

  • Paul says:

    I guess striking isn’t going to have too much of an impact… BA management are making hay while the sun isn’t shining so to speak.

    • Rob says:

      A picket line with people standing 2 metres apart won’t work too well.

      • BP says:

        It could work fantastically well. Ring the building 2m apart and nobody can get in without breaking social distancing.

  • Qwertyknowsbest says:

    Pure opportunism to not waste a crisis. Whilst I understand that some crew need to accept that we are now in a different world and even accepting BA’s desire to bring flexibility and lower the heavy cost with its legacy staff, this is brutal!

    • Lady London says:

      i cant see how they would have any money left to contribute to a pension as well as pay extra for health insurance on that money.

      Presumably the health insurance would be very important because travelling internationally constantly, working in air-sealed environments on the ground and in planes all day, travelling to different coutries, and exposed to literally Hundreds or even Thousands of passengers all week even if impossible distances could be maintained…..it’s a higher risk job for health than a normal office.

      I understand the realities but feel the BA experience will not recover to the unique experience of a good crew at the top of their game, i will be looking forward to seeing how BA will differentiate itself from other airlines for staff and customers now.

      I dont mean to be rude but I’d rather have Easyjet staff than the majority of Mixed Fleet. I hope there is some decent treatment for longserving staff that have to go. Last one out should turn out the light.

      • Londonsteve says:

        Totally agree on the aspect of Easyjet staff vs. Mixed Fleet. Sorry to say Easyjet crossed that threshold a couple of years ago. Wouldn’t be surprised if some cabin crew candidates chose Easyjet instead of BA to begin with, based on the relative merits of the job and their compensation package.

        • Margaret says:

          Jet2 staff are the best imo apart from the legacy staff on their game. My daughter always comments on them being fun, caring and mumsy when we fly to/ from the US (especially from Heathrow).

  • Esmiz says:

    Is it true or just an urban legend that some crew members used to live in Barcelona and commute to London for free?

    • Rob says:

      Very likely to be true. But why not? If you are Worldwide fleet you are only doing a handful of trips per month with long gaps between. The legal flying limit is 900 hours per year remember which is 75 hours per month. You don’t get many trips out of that.

      • Mikeact says:

        You mean a handful of trips, but being paid excessively for the privilege ? And I guess, again, it’s a lifestyle choice if someone wants to live/commute outside of the UK. I understand that a number of commuters use Eurostar to get into London …. fine if that’s what you want to do.

        • Dave H says:

          I’ve always wondered how this works for tax purposes. If you live in France and PAYE in a UK job do you put your address on payroll as France and do you pay UK or French taxes?

          I think the EHIC is only meant for temporary visitors so does that mean you need to pay medical insurance in France?

          I had thought of doing this before but thanks to Corona it’s made me realise that depending on the job it could be risky if your residence gets locked down but your work country isn’t.

          • Alan says:

            There’s rules re residency for tax purposes, HMRC website has a checklist you go through. Double taxation agreements would mean you’d get credit in for tax paid regardless. No issue with EHIC longterm AFAIK although of course not an option after the end of this year, but anyone doing this for a while will probably be in a position to apply for French citizenship. Don’t imagine Eurostar commutes will be much fun with increased border controls though!

      • @mkcol says:

        I have a friend who used to commute for Eurofleet from Lisbon, so it’s not just WW who were doing so. Remember that Eurofleet tend to do their flights as 2-4 night trips around Europe, rarely just a single there & back the same day.
        It’ll be interesting to see if they’ll simplify the standby & time between flights structure too, as it was massively complex.

    • Kieran says:

      Not sure it’s free. It will be the taxes at least.

    • CV3V says:

      Its not free, crew will usually pay for a standby ticket which covers the taxes (etc.), this then gives them the cheapest ticket going and its fully flexible – the ticket is more of a travel voucher for redemption i.e. don’t get on the first flight to LHR, try for the next one and regardless of airline as long as they participate in the scheme. Plenty of London based crew stay in Glasgow, Edinburgh and in European cities such as Paris – lots of flights into London. Looks like the end of that.

      • plobs says:

        Crew can also fly in the jumpseats, including the cockpit jumpseat I believe. This gives them much more probability of getting on the flights. Also, I think the captain can choose the order of staff who can get on the plane when there are only jump seats left, so commuting crew probably have an unwritten agreement to get on first

        • Esmiz says:

          Thanks, had no idea about that.

          Was this the standard in many airlines?

          I guess these days nobody hires cabin crew with those conditions.

    • Wife’s dental hygienist – in Scotland – is part-time BA long haul cabin crew.

      Basically one or two flights a month from London, job done.

      Don’t know her, but suspect she’d be exactly the sort of employee BA will be hoping quits.

    • Ming the Merciless says:

      I’ve got 2 clients who live overseas and work in London.

      One in Spain who flies in 3 or four days a week.

      One in Israel who works in London Monday to Thursday in London, Friday and Saturday off, Sunday from home.

      Long commutes aren’t in usual.

      • mvcvz says:

        1) No-one cares
        2) One suspects none of these clients are BA cabin crew.

    • Lady London says:

      Ryanair staff live all over Europe and commute to work too.

      At least this means some staff might qualify for the more decent unemployment support from some of the EU states if they commute from them.

      The thing is, we’re seeing it now for airline staff. Some other types of worker, perhaps even some of the more privileged types of professionals that have had the good fortune to work at home during this crisis, may also become vulnerable if measures have to continue too long, including possibility of a more deadly second wave in winter.

  • Mikeact says:

    Could some knowledgeable person spell out what ….. ‘for Legacy, Heathrow crew,it isn’t pretty’ … means in more detail?

    • sigma421 says:

      If you started working for BA as crew before about 2010, you’d be in either Worldwide or Eurofleet (Rob explains the details in his article). These crew generally have substantially more generous pay and conditions than their post-2010 Mixed Fleet colleagues. There’s a further divide within these ‘legacy’ crew. Anyone who joined before 1997 is on an even better contract and these are the people who are earning very high salaries. There are far fewer of these than BA would have you believe.

      • Mikeact says:

        Thanks. So a very high salary, whatever that means, could mean somebody pouring me a second cup of coffee on the way down to Cape Town on £100 k per annum ? Does Legacy also apply to the crew working down the back or are they exclusively up front ?
        Sorry, but I’m just a passenger and have never really thought about the crew in these terms. As long as they know what to do in any emergency has always been my priority, and I speak as someone who has been involved in serious, very, incidents over the years.

        • insider says:

          BA has 3 (or 4 including international cabin crew) different cabin crew fleets. Worldwide (flying longhaul only – legacy), Eurofleet (flying shorthaul only – legacy) and mixed fleet (flying both, and new recruits go here). The legacy fleets were closed to new entrants around the last recession.

          The legacy fleets do not fly together, so yes you will have worldwide fleet working up front and down back. I doubt they’d be any on £100k+, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the cabin service directors were in the £60k range. This compares to mixed fleet closer to £20k, so you can see why BA want to close these fleets down

      • Cal says:

        What would the pre 1997 “even better” contract look like?

    • CV3V says:

      and as discussed, they will probably be rostered for 4 or so long haul flights per month, this in turn means a lot of crew don’t stay in London, dotted in cities all round UK and Europe. I’ve known crew rostered on standby fly down to LHR for the day and wait in the crew room until the last flight departure in their standby period departs, then fly back home again – its some commute.

      New proposal could see them do a bunch of short haul flights all week, then a long haul week after (subject to regs on crew working hours, which BA will max out).

    • Jack the lad says:

      Basically a 50% cut in take home pay, working double the amount you do now with none of the protections that have been negotiated and protected for years.

      Remember the 24k “package” includes pension payments from the company, and expenses for living down route. So the basic pay will be around £15,000 .

      • Derek Scott says:

        Most people not in the 40% tax bracket would have roughly 75% net from gross pay. So a £24k gross is around £18,000 net = £1,500 monthly take home

    • Rob says:

      You’re looking at, potentially, £70k down to £24k (for someone who is forced out of a senior role due to the large cut in the number of senior roles vs base crew) – and the £24k is a fake figure due to allowances (the equivalent of your boss saying you can no longer claim expenses when travelling).

      • mvcvz says:

        So, entirely serious question. People were legitimately being paid £70K pa as cabin crew? I have three university degrees and two professional fellowships. It took me decades before I was earning anything like that.

        • Rob says:

          There are Cabin Service Directors on that, yes, who have been with the airline for 30+ years. I doubt anyone under 50 is on that much. There are not many of them, however.

          • mvcvz says:

            Wow. Thanks. Entirely different perspective. Waitresses with a bit of critical incident training.

          • Lady London says:

            ok mvcvz. All that education and yet… Sorry but with respect, you’re giving the impression that your education failed to cover respect, politeness and sympathy for the situation of others.

          • Bazza says:

            Best to ignore this one. Seems extremely arrogant and rude. No surprised his never been a high earner with that bitterness he carries.

        • Doug M says:

          So what, you think years in education means capable? If you wanted money you should have worked for a bank or as a plumber.

        • Bill says:

          Comments like this are why there will be a race to the bottom as soon as employers can exploit a situation. BA saw fit to have a reward scheme such as it is / was. It’s not the fault of the employees.

          • insider says:

            the problem for BA (and maybe legacy companies too) is that the aviation world has changed around them, and something that was perhaps appropriate many years ago no longer is. Same with final salary pensions.

            You can set up an airline in the UK now, with a UK AOC like Wizz or Norwegian, but offer incredibly poor T&Cs (see Norwegian effectively firing all UK / Spanish based staff by bankrupting the entity that employs them) and then compete with BA. BA have the brand presence, but these companies can probably fly at 20% less of the cost.

        • MJ says:

          Probably a good thing. Imagine how arrogant you’d sound if you were paid a huge salary right out of uni.

          • Alan says:

            Isn’t that what the big consulting firms specialise in doing? 😉 Then sell their ‘expertise’ at even higher markups to the public sector…

          • Rob says:

            Some London law firms are paying £100k+ starting packages now.

          • Crafty says:

            If your brand relies on having a high concentration of very intelligent Oxbridge graduates, you have to pay to attract them. I’m not sure why this is surprising!

  • Cheshire Pete says:

    This probably fits into the bigger picture. Many seasoned travellers like the familiarity & service provided by the legacy crew. Many of the younger crew simply don’t have the gravitas to convey that feeling of welcoming warmth. I remember once on a domestic in CE being told by someone very young they couldn’t hang my coat as we simply don’t do that on short haul. Now not all of them do this, but it’s not what I expect as a customer. Legacy crew would never say that.

    Probably fits into the picture that BAEC don’t seem overly keen on extending membership. I’m sure it’s all part of the BA strategy going forward. Cut that familiarity and as the famous phrase goes from the infamous BA board meeting note. Show us your f…..ing money!

    • the_real_a says:

      Its a popular opinion, but my experience was the complete opposite. The rudest, coldest staff and the worst flights of any airline have always been the mature legacy fleet personnel. Of course there are a great staff out there and i have enjoyed many a great flight but its just so inconsistent – i have said for a long time there is MUCH deadwood that needs clearing. Still, its not nice at all for the staff involved.

      • Josh says:

        I’ve noticed legacy fleets to be one extreme or the other. Either cold indifference, with an air of arrogance thrown in, or excellent service. The younger crew have invariably always been warm and charming. Still…the better crews outnumbered the lackluster ones.