Business

BA offers one-time bonuses to pilots and crew to rebuild relationships with employees

British Airways has awarded a one-time bonus to 20,000 pilots and crew, the latest sign the airline is trying to rebuild relationships with employees as the travel industry recovers from the pandemic.

The airline has informed unions of its plan to offer a 10% bonus to operations staff including cabin crew and ground staff.

The pilots were given a 5% bonus in private negotiations with their Balpa union.

The bonus is part of a commitment by Sean Doyle, who became chief executive officer of BA in October 2020, to restore morale to staff and improve service for passengers.

He told the Financial Times last month that staff needed to be brought in “Back to the heart of the company”, although he warned there is a need for “honest conversations about what it takes to compete” in the airline industry.

A union representative said major airlines often have profit-triggering bonuses, but BA lost 3.9 billion euros in 2020, its most recent financial year, and no payouts. in a couple of years.

In the past, the airline has paid out smaller bonuses when the business hit its annual goal, but the 10% figure is unusually high, according to another person familiar with the matter.

According to two people involved in the negotiations, unions have yet to formally discuss the proposal with members and will not respond until the end of the month.

A union executive warned that while a bonus or raise would always be welcome, it should be properly negotiated to avoid “suboptimal outcomes”.

BA confirmed the suggestions and said they were a “thank you colleague gesture”.

The airline has been plagued by difficult labor relations for years, including the first strike in its history in 2019.

It laid off about 10,000 people when the pandemic hit in 2020, and was dubbed a “national disgrace” by politicians for its treatment of staff during the crisis.

Like its main competitors, the service provider has start to do that again as the industry recovers, including new flight attendant jobs for this summer.

The airline has also introduced a new subsidiary at London’s Gatwick Airport, with pilots and cabin crew on cheaper and more flexible contracts.

Doyle last month said BA needed to get back to offering passengers a “premium proposition,” an acknowledgment that standards have dropped as the airline has cut costs in recent years.

In an email to passengers, he acknowledged that the airline had “could have gone better”, especially the long wait times to get to the support centers, which had left many customers frustrated. hope.

philip.georgiadis@ft.com

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