Pilots of British Airways have agreed to accept a deal that will temporarily slash salaries by 20 percent and remove 270 jobs, the pilots' union BALPA announced. The agreement blocks a controversial "remove-and-rehire" tactic where workers would have been offered new employment contracts on worse terms.
Announced late Friday, the deal comes as the carrier struggles with the economic pain of the pandemic which has seen the group propose job cuts for 12,000 personnel, over 1,200 of those pilots.
The 20 percent wage reductions will cut to 8 percent over two years and to zero in the long term. The vote result had 85 percent of members giving their nod to the agreement on an 87 percent turnout.
BALPA general secretary Brian Strutton said their members have made a practical decision but the fact that they were unable to convince the airline to avoid all mandatory redundancies is "bitterly disappointing."
The proposition, negotiated by BALPA, was in response to British Airways' formal notification of 1,255 pilot job cuts and the threat to terminate - and then rehire - the remaining batch of pilots on "worse conditions," the union disclosed. British Airways employs 4,300 pilots.
International Consolidated Airlines Group, the owner of the airways, was previously denounced by unions and members of parliaments after the group announced its plans to terminate 1,255 positions and 12,000 jobs in total after it cited low cash flow and the pandemic as the main reasons.
The mother company of British Airways suffered a loss of almost 4 billion euros ($4.5 billion) in the first half of 2020 as travel prohibitions from the ongoing global health crisis tore through its bottom line.
The International Airlines Group, for comparison, posted 806 million euros in profit in the same period last year. Passenger volume fell by 98.5 percent in the second quarter in the wake of pandemic-triggered travel restrictions.
BALPA pointed out that there would still be some mandatory redundancies, projected at around 270 jobs, though that figure is likely to drop as British Airways will be collaborating with the union to lessen the negative effects of the changes.
Earlier this week, the airline criticized the British government for imposing quarantine rules on all travelers returning from Spain, claiming it would greatly affect an already "troubled aviation industry."
Meanwhile, the collapse in air travel will drive losses of over $84 billion (66 billion pounds) this year, the International Air Transport Association warned. It revealed last month that revenues for the current year would plummet to $419 billion, down by half from 2019.