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EXCLUSIVE: British Airways to mothball its Waterside head office

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British Airways is about to mothball most of its Waterside head office for an initial period of at least six months.

This is happening very quickly, with staff meant to be moving out over the next week or so. This is what the press office told us:

We are exploring every option to control our costs. We have a large property estate and we are always seeking ways to manage it in the optimum way.

British Airways to mothball its Waterside head office

The majority of back office staff will continue to operate from home, as they have been for the past few months.  There are conflicting reports on whether operational staff will remain in the building – BA says they will – but there will be minimal cost savings if Waterside has to remain partially open.

It is our understanding that the airport operations team will move into the British Airways offices at Terminal 5, whilst the global operations team – including senior management – are going into Technical Block C at Hatton Cross.

Technical Block C is where the British Airways Global Learning Academy is now based, and where the engineering operation is currently based.  It is this building:

British Airways to mothball its Waterside head office

….. which has engine workshops on the lower levels.

The move will be for a minimum of six months, potentially longer, which means that the majority of staff won’t return to Waterside until 2021. This presumably means that BA expects back-office staff to be working from home for a while yet.

It’s all water under the bridge…

Waterside was supposed to be a revolutionary change for British Airways, as it consolidated 4,000 staff across 14 separate buildings into one and introduced open plan working to the company for the first time. It was also supposed to save British Airways £15 million per year in property costs.

British Airways to mothball its Waterside head office

The building is set in 240 acres of landscaped grassland and waterways. Designed by Norwegian Architect Niels Torp, the site is made up of six four story buildings connected by a large glass-covered 175m long ‘street’. The design is supposed to encourage ‘social interaction and informal meeting’ amongst staff.

British Airways to mothball its Waterside head office

Each building is themed after a continent British Airways flies to. For example, cherry trees blossom around Orient House whilst eucalyptus are in Australia, and Birch saplings surround Europe House.

Waterside opened in 1998 at a cost of £200 million. Its years may be cut short, however, as it is in line for demolition if and when the third runway is built.  The building is situated directly on what is proposed to become tarmac, much to Willie Walsh’s chagrin.

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Comments (61)

  • JdeW says:

    The irony of Waterside having to be demolished for the 3rd Heathrow runway is wonderful…

  • Aaron says:

    Internal response is:

    “inaccurate” &
    “this is not the case”

    • Rob says:

      …. apart from the HFP readers who work in Waterside who have been told to pack up their desks and report to Hatton Cross next week 🙂

      The Press Office has confirmed it is happening. The only issue is whether everyone is going or a few will remain behind.

      I would assume that BA has confirmed it to the Daily Mail and Independent because they are unlikely to have published their articles based purely on what Rhys wrote.

      • Aaron says:

        The vast majority are remaining and will return when no longer working from home – no mothballing.

        • Rob says:

          So what you’re trying to say is that Waterside staff have been told to work from home for 6 months and so, technically, Waterside is not being mothballed because some people ARE still technically working there – except they are at home. And those who would physically need to be there have been moved to T5 and C 🙂

          No-one is saying the building is closing forever. We are saying it is closing, pretty much, for 6 months, which is the definition of ‘mothball’.

          • insider says:

            What exactly were the words the press office used? ‘Exploring all options’ is not the same as ‘we are doing this’. I suspect BA has options for a lot of things, but it doesn’t mean they have passed the ‘approved’ phase – which this has not.

          • Rhys says:

            No, it is happening. The only question is whether all or some of the operational staff will stay or move.

          • Rob says:

            There are various BA employees who have posted about the move on Flyertalk, plus direct contacts that both Rhys and I have – one of whom is packed up and ready to go.

            For clarity, we do NOT run articles where there is only one source for the information, unless that person can provide written proof of what they are saying. In this case we have multiple people coming to us, independently, with the same story as well as posting elsewhere.

            For additional clarity, we would also not have run the article if the press office told us we were wrong (even if we didn’t believe them!) but they didn’t. Remember that we know the main BA press people personally.

          • Lady London says:

            They would get rates relief for any floor not used. Wonder if it could be worth rotating them.

          • James says:

            Some teams are moving, the majority of waterside residents are not – not all are working from home either.

            Internally we are being told “In no way is Waterside being closed, permanently or temporarily, there are some departments moving location, everyone else is remaining.”

          • Fred (Your comment is awaiting moderation) says:

            ‘Waterside residents’ 😂

            ‘James’ wind your neck in.

          • ChrisC says:

            Lady London

            You only get rates relief for 3 months then it’s back up to full whack.

            The Hillingdin Council will soon pick up on any shenanigans of swapping which floors are mothballed to try and extend the relief