British Airways' new Gatwick unit given second chance by union

BA's main operations run out of London and Britain's biggest airport Heathrow

  
British Airways tail fins are pictured at Heathrow Airport in London, Britain, May 17, 2021.

British Airways tail fins are pictured at Heathrow Airport in London, Britain, May 17, 2021.

REUTERS/John Sibley

LONDON - British Airways has signalled it could reverse its decision to scrap short-haul flights from London's no.2 airport Gatwick, after its pilots union took a new proposal to its members about BA's plans to set up a cheaper unit.

British Airways, owned by IAG, was looking for alternative uses for its Gatwick slots but could now stay to compete there against low cost airlines such as easyJet if pilots give it the go-ahead in a ballot later this week.

British Airways had said on Sept. 23 it would end its short-haul operations at Gatwick, blaming pilot union BALPA's rejection of the plans for the new unit, but talks were now back on.

"Last week BALPA asked us to resume discussions. These talks were constructive, addressed key concerns and have secured the efficiencies required," a BA spokesperson said on Monday.

BALPA confirmed on Monday that it was consulting with its BA members about improved pay and conditions for Gatwick pilots, adding: "The result of the ballot will be declared later this week."

BA's main operations run out of London and Britain's biggest airport Heathrow. During the pandemic, when it has struggled financially, it has focused on Heathrow's more profitable routes.

Historically it says its short-haul operations at Gatwick have been unprofitable, and it wants to create a new unit which runs more cheaply but which it says will offer a "full service" with the look and feel of BA.

Shares in BA traded down 0.3% to 187 pence at 0914 GMT, paring earlier gains of 2%.

The news was first reported by The Telegraph newspaper.

(Reporting by Sarah Young in London and Nishit Jogi in Bengaluru; Editing by Daniel Wallisl Lisa Shumaker and Andrew Heavens) ((Nishit.Jogi@thomsonreuters.com;))


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