BA crew fly into disgraceful territory

David Robertson

It was another bad week for the European aviation industry. Air France-KLM revealed losses of €1.55 billion (Dh7bn) last week while British Airways lost a record £531 million (Dh2.8bn).

Both airlines are taking drastic measures to reverse their losses. BA has been aggressive in getting to grips with its problems, cutting capacity and costs to stem the red ink. However, BA also realises that simply reducing losses in the short term is not enough. It needs to be able to compete with rivals like Emirates and Etihad and that means having a similar cost base. Structural changes are needed in the way BA operates and that has brought the airline into conflict with its 12,000 cabin crew, who have accumulated ridiculous perks and benefits over the years.

Attempts by Willie Walsh, BA's Chief Executive, to restructure the pay and conditions of his crew are being resisted and a strike is due this week.

While it is understandable that well-paid employees want to protect their salaries, the vitriol with which this conflict has been conducted is disgraceful. Protestors broke up talks to avert the strike chanting "Kill Willie".

A small minority of militant crew are trying to ruin BA. Hopefully, this is just the last hurrah for a dying breed because airlines like BA cannot go on racking up losses like those announced last week.


- The writer is the Business Correspondent of The Times of London. The views expressed are his own


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