BA & BALPA Restart Talks On Gatwick Short Haul Flights

British Airways and BALPA have reopened talks to set up a new airline company at London Gatwick.

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British Airways, London Gatwick
British Airways, London Gatwick

Thought you’d heard the last of negotiations between BA and BALPA to set up a new short haul airline company at Gatwick?

Not so.

It’s less than two weeks since talks between BA and BALPA broke down.

It’s less than one week since BA confirmed that just two routes from Gatwick to Glasgow and Manchester would operate in the summer 2022 season.

Former Gatwick short haul routes to mainland Europe have since been transferred to Heathrow for the summer 2022 season.

It has now emerged that talks between BA and BALPA have restarted. A new improved proposal from BA will be put to BALPA members for a ballot imminently.

Given that BALPA had agreed in principle to the establishment of the new company (the two sides have been much further apart in the past), it seemed odd that the two sides would give up so easily.

This is not least because BA giving up a significant presence at Gatwick would impede the airline in the medium term. BA’s sister airlines in IAG could never take up the capacity. This would mean slots would have to be leased or sold, strengthening competitors in London. BA’s Heathrow network will eventually return to its pre COVID-19 state and leave little capacity for all former Gatwick routes.

The reopening of talks is clearly encouraging. Those who are familiar with BA industrial relations will not be surprised by a compromise being found after an apparent breakdown. Though, for the broader travelling public who can’t be expected to follow every development, this latest news creates considerable confusion.

Should BA ultimately restart short haul flights at Gatwick next summer a considerable marketing effort will be required to win back passengers.

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