Sean Doyle, the airline’s chief executive, warned that “Britain is heading into a summer of discontent” as British Airways prepared to remove even more flights from its schedule over the coming months.
Before two unions that represent about 700 check-in agents and ground staff at its Heathrow hub announced prospective strike dates, workers had unanimously approved of taking industrial action in an effort to reverse recent wage reduction. This was before the decision to reduce more flights was made.
British Airways had had to drastically cut its anticipated summer schedule due to a lack of staff, but Doyle predicted that more services would be cut now that the UK government has suspended the so-called “use it or lose it” slot restrictions.
In order to provide airlines the option to proactively cancel flights they had no chance of operating due to staffing shortages in advance and notify customers of their flight’s potential disruption, the Department for Transport issued an airport slot rules amnesty earlier this week.
Ministers worried that airlines might be compelled to suddenly cancel flights if the slot regulations weren’t relaxed.
Flights that “will have the least impact on our customers,” according to Doyle, are those that the airline is trying to cancel. An internal memo states that this will have a disproportionately negative impact on routes that are served by numerous flights each day.
Doyle informed staff members that “it’s evident Britain is heading towards a summer of discontent” and that the strike vote was “very disappointing” when he first discussed the possibility of highly disruptive strike action.
“We’re committed to working together with the unions to try and find solutions,” Doyle said. “Along with doing everything we can to help our customers, our priority is to make sure colleagues feel well supported and informed during this period”.