British Airways proposes to make 239 of 546 staff at its Cardiff maintenance facility redundant

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There has been a lot of media coverage about the proposed changes to British Airways cabin crew pay and conditions, together with a huge number of redundancies.

There has been far less coverage of other areas of the airline.  This is unfortunate, because virtually ALL British Airways staff, in all areas of the business, are being asked to sign up to permanent pay cuts and new, inferior, contracts.  This is for the lucky ones – the rest will be leaving with just statutory redundancy pay if their contract does not mandate a higher package.

British Airways Maintenance Cardiff redundancies

What is happening at British Airways Maintenance Cardiff?

You may not be aware that British Airways has a major maintenance facility in Cardiff where most of its long-haul Boeing fleet are sent.

It was originally opened in 1993 to look after the Boeing 747 fleet.  In 2008 BAMC started to maintain the Boeing 767-300 fleet (now retired) and in 2010 the Boeing 777-200 and 777-300 were added. The hanger also has the capability to maintain the newest Boeing 787 fleet.

British Airways Maintenance Cardiff redundancies

The staff and Unite, their union, were sent this letter (PDF) earlier this week.

As you will read, British Airways is proposing to make 239 of the 546 staff redundant.

In practice, it is likely that every member of staff will be made redundant but 307 will be allowed to return if they sign a new contract.  These will offer ‘competitive pay and benefits’ which are likely to be lower than those currently offered.  Employees will also have to accept weaker protection against redundancy, absence and disciplinary measures.

You will see (page 4) that British Airways is threatening to close the entire Cardiff facility if the union does not agree to the implementation of these changes.

These numbers exclude staff at British Airways Avionics Engineering in Llantrisant and British Airways Interiors in Blackwood.  It is suggested that these facilities might close with activities consolidated in Cardiff, with staff expected to become multi-functional across all three areas.

British Airways Maintenance Cardiff redundancies

This may be a good time to dig out the quote that British Airways issued in 2018 when the Cardiff facility celebrated its 25th birthday.  Head of Business Units Rob Crew said:

“Huge congratulations and my thanks to all those colleagues, past and present, who have contributed to the BAMC story over the past 25 years. Over this time BAMC has been a central part of our business, never standing still and continuing to develop its people and capabilities. The organisation has been flexible and quick to respond to the ever-changing needs of our customers and our business, including new aircraft types, cabin configuration changes, new IFE systems, repairs and modifications.”

British Airways Maintenance Cardiff redundancies

A similar story of redundancies, with reduced pay and conditions for those who remain, is repeating itself across all other British Airways business units.

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  1. IndiaCharlie says:

    Wow WW is making friends left right and centre. I understand that these are extraordinary times and they do call for extraordinary measures. There will inevitably be redundancies and I have no idea how an airline runs or can manage to get through this crisis… But…. I do know that disinsentivised, uninspired and under rewarded staff do nothing for the long term health of a business. The board may have a responsibility to the share holders but that responsibility extends to the long term health of the business not just the next couple of years. One thing about aviation that you just cannot buy is experience and loyalty, they are earned. Once they lose their most experienced (higher paid) staff, it’s difficult to recover.

  2. BrightonReader says:

    How much is Alex’s salary and benefits being cut by

    How inferior will his new contract be?

    • Optimus Prime says:

      How dare you make such comment? Don’t you know that AC and WW are the one stirring the ship? The monkeys on the floor are worthless.

  3. MattB says:

    “In practice, it is likely that every member of staff will be made redundant but 239 will be allowed to sign new contracts. ”

    Sorry to be picky but shouldn’t it be 546 less 239 who will have to sign new contracts?

    • Andrew says:

      And I think ‘make redundant’ rather than ‘fire’ would be a more appropriate and less tabloid headline for this article

      • ‘redundancies’ is a REALLY long word when you have to fit your headline into a fixed number of characters.

        • BrightonReader says:

          BA proposes 239 redundancies at Cardiff Maintenance Base

          would be within your word limit

      • Charlieface says:

        Redundant is just biz-speak, everyone else says fired

        • Sunguy says:

          Work for an American company and you are RIF`d…..(Reduction in Force).

        • BrightonReader says:

          No it’s not just ‘biz’ speak.

          In the UK it has a specific legal meaning.

          Beingmade redundant is defiitly not the same as being fired or sacked.

        • Or “retrenched” in Australia, which I actually had to Google, as I’d never heard the term and it sounded like something from one of the World Wars, but seems is fairly common.

    • Not picky at all, just misleading from Rob. Maybe he’s distracted with home-schooling duties! 😉

      • You haven’t read the letter. One option is that EVERYONE is laid off but the 307 ‘chosen ones’ are given new contracts and offered their job back if they sign.

        • Mr(s) Entitled says:

          Then they are not firing 239. They are firing 546.

          Redundancy may be along word, but the right word should take precedent over length.

          • Lady London says:

            i dont get why it’s legal for companies to do this. if they need to fire 100 people and they still need 200 people to do the job then why doesnt the law say, per round, you may only send condultation notices to a maximum of 10 % more than the number of jobs you actually need to eliminate.

    • No. Read the letter. Fire everyone, rehire 307, is an option.

      • So BA are proposing to make 307 redundant then?

        You’re confusing this ‘news’ by the hour Rob!

      • Simon Phillips says:

        I think a possible issue is that the article says both fire / make redundant 239 and then also offer 239 a new contract.
        I get that the offer effectively is sack all and rehire however it’s not clear above if:
        The number to be rehired is 239 (“239 will be allowed to return if they sign a new contract”) and therefore 307 (546-239) are effectively sacked; or
        The number to be rehired is 307 (again 546-239) and therefore 239 are effectively sacked (“ British Airways is proposing to make 239 of the 546 staff redundant.”).

        Hope that makes sense and I acknowledge that it doesn’t make a massive difference to the bigger picture story at BA right now.

      • Mike P says:

        I’ve read the letter. I think the confusion is that BA is proposing to make 239 jobs redundant. They are also threatening to make all 546 positions redundant and then re-hire, on lesser terms, 307 people.

        • But Rob writes above;

          ‘Read the letter. Fire everyone, rehire 239’

          While the potential news is sad for those affected, this article is hilarious!

          • Mike P says:

            It’s simply a typo, had the original article read ‘it is likely that every member of staff will be made redundant but 307 will be allowed to return’ it would be entirely correct.

          • Yes, 307, sorry.

        • Alex W says:

          It clearly says headcount reduction of 239. If they have to terminate all 546, it does not say how many they would offer a new contract.

  4. Is the only difference between redundancy and firing in the UK notice period and statutory pay? What is the test to prove that a role is redundant, that the company can no longer afford to keep those roles active?

    If you make the entire team of 546 redundant but then bring x back on reduced terms then x of those roles by definition could not have been truly redundant?

    • Paul Pogba says:

      Those roles fixing widgets are redundant but these new lower paid jobs fixing widgets AND maintaining the phalangy are hiring. You have a mortgage and credit card payments, would you be interested?

    • You make a role redundant while you fire/sack an individual. The key point about redundancy is that you cannot then employ someone else in a role you’ve made redundant. Therefore BA is proposing to reduce the number of roles at its facility and make those roles redundant.

      • Paul Pogba says:

        Employers will tweak/change the role and try their luck in a tribunal. As an employee you have the choice of going, accepting the awful terms, or winning at employment tribunal and walking around the office like a fart for the rest of time.

  5. Simon CH says:

    Some strange interpretations above.
    Fire them all, then no redundancies offered?
    Either way, we KNOW the travel industry will have to change and adapt to the new market.
    If people are not travelling, why should they employ a full amount of staff??
    This is a business, NOT a state owned company.

    I know many will be horrified, but the only way they can afford to maintain staff levels is if (a) the same amount of passenger numbers returns VERY soon, or (b) ticket prices quadruple at least, to cover the costs.
    But we all want travel cheaper, easier and Immediately.

    So, mr Walsh maybe not on many Christmas card lists, but he is trying to change and maximise profits and stability etc to a new era of travel. And that is what EVERY single airline will be doing.

    • It’s aircraft maintenance. The aircraft aren’t going anywhere (in the main). They need maintaining whether they fly or not.

      Why would anyone accept voluntary redundancy when all you getting is the legal minimum, which is peanuts? It’s not like a voluntary redundancy round where you’d be offered a substantial sum (1-2 years salary) to go. Last time my wife got a VR offer, which she refused, it was well into six figures. It will end up as the letter say – everyone is fired and 239 are offered the chance to come back.

      • Alex W says:

        True, they will at least need to complete calendar-based maintenance, anti-deterioration maintenance and any technical directives that come from the type certificate holder (Boeing/Airbus etc). Probably a requirement of the lease that this has to be kept up to date.

        Some maintenance will be required on a per Flying Hour basis which is obviously reduced or not required at the moment.

      • Lesley Palmer says:

        People may accept voluntary redundancy of only the statutory minimum if they are given eg pay in lieu of notice and can leave immediately with perhaps 3/6 months pay. Additionally although the letter skates over it some contracts may well have a better redundancy provision – anyone made redundant with the entitlement to a better provision in their contract will receive that higher amount.

      • Rob, given you get to doctor your own misleading posts, I suggest you correct them all

        * 307

      • Lady London says:

        BA is cleaning up.

  6. Alex W says:

    Closing the facility would seem very short sighted. Once it’s gone it’s not the sort of thing that can be switched back on again in an instant. These skills take years to learn.
    If there are a lot of closures around the world then the cost of maintenance could shoot up when demand returns.
    BA could use this down time to train the staff on new aircraft types, hire more apprentices etc.

    • Lol you’re assuming BA is well managed and capable of thinking about the long term. How much has cutting corners and outsourcing IT actually ended up costing them?!

  7. Chrish says:

    So i’ts easy to read into this that BA is hiring Staff
    Good on WW the first Airline to start hiring lol

  8. Peter K says:

    This could end badly for BA. A company in my line of work (admittedly not in a recession) fired all in a certain role and made them apply for it again but with less positions and at a lower wage. Only problem was, too many said stuff you and found work elsewhere and they had a shortfall.

    They ended up having to get in free lancers for years to fulfill the needed work. It benefitted me as I was higher trained and working free lance so got paid my much higher wage for a much easier role. The company involved ended up being bought out less than 5 years later despite having been around for a VERY long time.

    BA may really regret this decision.

    • insider says:

      But how many other aircraft maintenance roles are there in Cardiff outside of BA?

      • Peter K says:

        Possibly none, but people can relocate for their job. A Boeing aircraft is the same across the world.

      • Spaghetti Town says:

        There’s one other company down the road at St Athan airfield. That’s pretty much it…

  9. Paul Sowden says:

    The maxim never let a good crisis go to waste is one that Willie follows to the letter

    I am sure that we all have differing views on the approach that BA is taking to its staff, but I must say that whilst it’s not necessarily to my style I think most of the decisions being taken are ones I would have taken and will position BA strongly once this is all over

    • BA were strong before the crisis and will be strong after it. Given how important Heathrow is and that BA have (inherited) the majority of slots there, it doesn’t take a management genius to turn a big profit.

  10. This is just a prelude to BA moving maintenance to a cheaper centre overseas (Spain?). The government needs to get involved in strong-arming BA if they want the Welsh to keep their jobs.

    • Simon says:

      This was my first thought. Tbh, slightly surprised that maintenance is still badged at airline brand level, when e.g. cargo is now handled at IAG level. Am sorry for the staff nevertheless.

    • Spaghetti Town says:

      The other rumor flying around locally was the Cardiff base would be spun off/sold off.

  11. Harry H says:

    I wonder if Willie Walsh keeps a photo of Michael O’Leary by his bed to kiss before he goes to sleep? As time goes on, you could run a headline that would be believable of either of them.

    His whole attitude towards running firstly BA and later IAG has been to cut P&L costs to maximise shareholder value. He knows his own net worth is based on the latter and his bonus scheme will be directly related to it.

    I understand that demand ‘may’ take years to return and that BA needed to solve the problem of the legacy cost base. Waiting for them to retire would not feature in a CEO’s guidebook as most CEO’s know they have a few years to make their mark and then they move on. They are not interested in long term planning because they will not be around to benefit (financially) from the results. Make a short term profit and leave a long term headache for your successor to sort out. I wonder if post Covid, the consumer will respond to how companies behaved during the crisis. I saw a survey showing that BA were the 4th least responsibly behaved business according to the UK public (After Sports Direct, Virgin and Wetherspoons).

    As for Heathrow, is it just me that thinks that these “valuable” slots will be ten a penny next year as the ‘use it or lose it’ rules come back and airlines find long term operation of ghost flights draining. And that is before the tree hugging fraternity find out about it. I think Heathrow will see big changes in the balance of demand for a few years and will emerge looking very different to today.

    • mr_jetlag says:

      The slots still will be valuable, to the ME and American airlines looking to expand their Heathrow base. Gatwick will be the loser as pointed out elsewhere.

      • Indeed. Even if travel returns to 2010 levels, slots were still very valuable back then!

        • Spaghetti Town says:

          It’s funny how many readers on here think air travel is destined for certain doom yet are chomping at the bit to get going in Club World again

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