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Here’s the deal British Airways pilots have agreed to minimise redundancies

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Whilst British Airways cabin crew and the airline still seem some way apart in terms of agreeing a package of pay cuts and redundancies, BALPA – the British Airways pilots union – has agreed a deal with the airline.  This is now going out to members for a vote, with a recommendation that they accept.

It is an interesting package, and one which requires large sacrifices on behalf of those who remain to protect those who will not be flying.  It is not necessarily a model which can be copied by other parts of the airline, because pilots are on higher base salaries which gives them more room for manoeuvre.

If you remember from our earlier articles, British Airways was seeking to lose 1,255 of its 4,300 pilots.  It now looks as if compulsory redundancies could be as low as 200.

This is how it will work, according to a British Airways document sent to pilots which I have seen:

All pilots who remain will take a pay cut of 8%, effective from September 2020

All pilots who remain will take an ADDITIONAL pay cut of 8% (so a total of 16%) which will be paid into a Community Retention Scheme.  This pot will be used to pay the salaries of 300 pilots who will be grounded.  This pay cut will last from September 2020 to September 2022, with the amount reducing as flight numbers increase and more pilots are pulled back into the active fleet.

The 4% pay rise agreed for April 2021 will be deferred until January 2024

All pilots will take two weeks unpaid leave between August 2020 and April 2021

This is how the pilot numbers will be reduced:

All pilots have been offered voluntary redundancy.  They have until next Sunday to accept or reject.  I understand that around 250 pilots may accept.

If not enough pilots accept voluntary redundancy, additional staff will be selected for compulsory redundancy to reach the 450 permanent job cuts which I believe are required.  However, these pilots will be placed in a ‘Priority Return Pool’ and BA will not hire any pilots externally for three years without first approaching the members of the pool.

Of those who are not given voluntary redundancy or compulsory redundancy, 300 will be placed in the Community Retention Scheme.  These pilots will not fly – at all – but will continue to be paid a reduced salary, using money docked from the salaries of their colleagues.  These 300 pilots will be the first 300 people to be put back in the air as demand increases.

There are also opportunities for pilots to accept a part-time contract or to transfer to the RAF for a period.

The likelihood of being placed in the Community Retention Scheme will depend on the fleet type operated by that pilot.  No A350 or Boeing 787 pilots will be placed on the scheme.  Tenure will play a large part in deciding who goes into the Community Retention Scheme, so there is an element of ‘last in, first out’ at play.

Is this a good deal?

In the circumstances, this seems to be as good a deal as could be expected.  It is impressive to see that the remaining pilots have agreed to take a substantial pay cut in order to keep 300 of their colleagues on a salary, albeit grounded.  Pilots are also required to agree to changes in their working practices.

The deal works both ways, of course.  British Airways needs to keep a large group of trained pilots ready to fly as demand picks up.  The Community Retention Scheme means that the airline – at no cost to itself – will have 300 people on standby who it knows it can call on when required.

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Comments (55)

  • Neil McDougall says:

    Also a number of captains maybe demoted because the majority of those on compulsory redundancy will be first officers. Hope not but if they do then that is a 45% pay cut.

    • Nick says:

      Lol that’s ‘cause and effect’ of the LIFO element BALPA pushed so hard to keep… if you keep the oldest-serving first in a world where you have previously refused to accept DEP Captains, then you cause by default an imbalance in rank. They could have accepted an alternative that avoided potential demotions, but not only did they choose not to, they actually fought hard to make it that way.

  • the_real_a says:

    Is this the first time that workplace redundancy consultation has actually worked?

    • Bagoly says:

      It’s true that it is rare, and good, to hear about an effort to spread the pain.
      It may not be precisely “fair”, but it’s seems more reasonable than just x% lose all income and the rest carry on as before.
      Probably only easy to do where:
      a) job is highly skilled so pay is starting high
      b) people can (within groups) be swapped between roles at short notice.

  • Margaret Morrison says:

    What happens to pilots that had signed s contract to start in April, then didn’t? They have been in holding pool since December. They have also left good pilot jobs with other airlines.

  • steve says:

    Love the idea of pilots doing other jobs such as cabin crew. As if cabin crew aren’t suffering enough without donating their jobs to the pilots who stitched them up in the last industrial action.

  • Chris Heyes says:

    confused @ why are so many HFP readers so concerned how a system works,
    What BA employee’s do ect If a employee decides to earn a fortune whilst getting payed
    for not flying ie Acting, singing, dancing, working from home
    Not volunteering to go back flying and stopping on pay from pilots that are flying
    What difference does it make to HFP readers ?
    I once worked a 4 day week,after power cuts finished it was my fellow employees who objected to management because of their jealousies, i was very happy only working only 4 days
    Management didn’t mind either paying me a days less pay

    • Brian W says:

      Is English your first language @Chris Heyes?

    • Rob says:

      Because 70% of our UK readers are London-based professionals who – as bankers, consultants etc – have a genuine interest in how businesses are structured.

      When you walk into a restaurant or a theatre, do you immediately look around the room, mentally count the number of seats and then work out how much money that venue makes per night? If you work in finance, that’s what you do. It’s second nature, it’s in your blood. It’s like how doctors (so one told me) tend to stare at people on trains and try to work out what health conditions that person has.

      • Chris Heyes says:

        Rob @ Sorry to say when walk into a restaurant i look where my table is have a got a good spot
        Is the food really really good, i don’t even look around if a film star was in i wouldn’t even notice
        Now my partner would but she’s noisy lol
        When i watch a film i couldn’t even tell you who’s in it because i’m only interested if the films any good, unfortunately very few are, i can’t stand any films you know the endings within 5min lol
        But each to his own If you like looking at seats & working out how much someone makes good for you who am i to judge
        Rob i once bought a share on “AIM” for 4p a share went up to over £4 a share have you got near that for yourself ? (i think it was £4.34 when i sold a few weeks before 9.11 lucky or what

      • Lady London says:

        I thought it was just me!

        It also applies if you do a sport to a high level. You get very analytical when you’re watching your own sport or any similar sport – and keep sizing up people you meet ‘are they built for my sport’ ‘do they move in the right way’ etc

        My partner could take a look of 2-5 seconds over a field of 50-100 competitors in the first round and could name the winner then and there – that would be crowned 5-10 rounds later.

        • Chris Heyes says:

          Lady [email protected] Wow you have a very talented partner
          But people can be deceiving looks and actions, i competed at a fairly high level
          Olympic qualify time Marathon run in AA Championships, London, New York ect 1980s slightly earlier
          When i was training, i used to do a long training session on a Wed night which i used to come last or next to last with Blackburn Harriers
          When it got to the Marathon race they couldn’t keep up with me (they couldn’t believe it lol)
          What they didn’t know was on that Tuesday they rested before Wed night training i’d run 10/15 miles
          and on the Wed I’d already run 5 miles morning, 5 miles lunch then 2/3 miles to meet them lol
          I was coming last because i was gone by then lol
          My first Marathon was 3.15, 2nd was 2.45, 3rd 2.25,Olympic Qualifying time rest around 2.20/25
          i was training around 100/120 miles every week, there was no professional athletes them days

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