British Airways pilots have voted in favour of proposals for BA to establish a new airline company at London Gatwick to operate short haul flights.
Almost all BA short haul flights at Gatwick have been suspended since March 2020. BA had been in negotiations with the pilots union BALPA to establish a new airline company to operate short haul flights at the airport. BA’s parent company IAG had cited a need to be “flexible and competitive” at Gatwick.
The new airline company will operate under the BA name with a very similar on board service to short haul flights at present. It will have a lower cost base and a scheduled geared more towards summer seasonal flights with lower pay for pilots during the quieter winter months.
Talks between BA and BALPA broke down which prompted BA to publicly announce that it was suspending almost all short haul flights at the airport. Last week, almost all Gatwick short haul flights were moved to London Heathrow for the summer 2022 season. This left BA with almost no alternative but to lease or sell its Gatwick slots to rival airlines.
A revised proposal was agreed between BA and BALPA last Sunday. In a ballot held by BALPA, BA pilots have voted overwhelmingly in favour (82%) with a turnout of 75%.
It is likely that the new airline company will start operating flights from Sunday 27 March 2022. It is expected that the new airline company will operate with a fleet of around 17 Airbus A230 aircraft.
There is clearly a lot work to be done in the coming months to establish the new company, secure an operating licence and determine its first routes. BA’s parent company IAG is likely to give an update when it announces its third quarter results in November.
BA has issued a statement acknowledging today’s result.
Officially, no final decision has been made by BA. The airline continues discussions with trade unions representing other workgroups and other stakeholders (presumably Gatwick Airport). Though, with arguably the biggest hurdle cleared, it is more likely than not the new airline will launch next summer.