It seems as though British Airways’ short-haul operations may end up returning to London Gatwick Airport after all. The airline had been set to end services from the airport after BALPA voted against a revised pilot deal at the airport. It seems as though the vote has now been revisited with a more positive outcome for both sides.
London Heathrow is the home of British Airways. However, neighboring London Gatwick has also been a crucial part of the airline’s operations before all flights from the airport were suspended in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now it is unclear if such flights will ever return.
A new vote by BALPA?
A vote by BALPA, the pilot union, was behind British Airways’ decision not to return to London Gatwick. This vote has now been revisited, according to Head for Points. The publication reports that a new vote on a slightly revised proposal from Brtish Airways was accepted, with 82% of members voting for it. The turnout has been reported as 75%.
Of course, this doesn’t automatically mean that British Airways short-haul will return to London Gatwick, as many hurdles still lie in the way. It is, however, a relatively large hurdle to have been overcome.
A British Airways spokesperson told Simple Flying,
“We will now further develop our proposal to provide a full-service short-haul subsidiary operation at Gatwick, offering competitive fares to our customers. We will continue discussions with our colleagues, trade unions, suppliers and other stakeholders, following this positive result, and if we can agree a way forward with all parties, we would hope to begin operations next summer.”
So what’s going on a London Gatwick?
British Airways is looking to change how it operates short-haul flights out of London Gatwick Airport to make the operation more profitable. In September, the airline told us that it had been losing money at London’s southern airport since before the pandemic began.
In late August, the carrier proposed launching a new short-haul subsidiary at the airport when operations resume as demand returns. The subsidiary was expected to be operated as a low-cost carrier to make it competitive with easyJet, Ryanair, and Wizzair, who are all significant players at the airport.
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Unfortunately for British Airways, this proposal was blocked by the pilot union. As a result, British Airways revealed that it would pull out of the airport altogether two weeks ago. As such, the airline revealed it was pursuing various options for its slots at the airport. This could have included selling slots to competing airlines.
It seems as though the threat of leaving the airport altogether caught the attention of the union and brought both sides back to the negotiating table. Of course, there is still a long way to go before a firm return to Gatwick Airport is finalized.
At the time, aviation data experts Cirium told Simple Flying that British Airways currently has 47 short-haul routes from Gatwick, but that all of these are also served by other carriers, bar four. These are Algiers, Cologne/Bonn (a winter seasonal destination), Genoa, and Manchester.
What do you make of the BALPA vote on London Gatwick Airport? Let us know what you think and why in the comments.