MPs Unhappy As British Airways Pushes On With Job Consultations

British MP Huw Merriman today commented that it was disappointing that British Airways continues a consultation over job cuts. The carrier is currently in discussions with unions to ensure as many jobs as possible are saved once the current crisis has passed.

IAG, British Airways, Job Consultation
MPs are disappointed that IAG is continuing consultation on up to 12,000 job cuts. Photo: Stuart Bailey / British Airways

British Airways is currently in a period of consultation as it works out exactly how to react to the decreased demand expected for the first few years once the aviation industry recovers. Nothing firm has been confirmed in any direction yet. However, several options are on the table. On Monday, the consultations became a hot topic of discussion when a group of MPs got the opportunity to quiz International Airlines Group (IAG) leader Willie Walsh.

What’s new?

On Monday, we reported that IAG CEO Willie Walsh had appeared in front of the government’s transport select committee. Here he initially criticized the Prime Ministers planned quarantine before being asked a range of questions by the MPs present. Unsurprisingly, a lot of these questions were about British Airways’ consultation regarding job cuts.

Walsh was asked to send a follow-up letter to the group containing information that he could not immediately recall, in addition to some other details. In the letter to MPs, Walsh said:

“We must act now to secure the maximum number of jobs possible, consistent with the reality of a structurally changed airline industry in a severely weakened global economy. I want to confirm therefore that we will not pause our consultations or put our plans on hold.”

IAG, British Airways, Job Consultation
The airline is attempting to safeguard as many jobs as possible while coping with a drop in demand due to the current crisis. Photo: Geoff Caddick Press Association via British Airways

MPs disappointed

MPs were understandably disappointed with Walsh’s decision to push ahead with the plan to consider cutting jobs. The Chair of the Committee, Huw Merriman MP, said that the reason for the disappointment was that the consultation was continuing despite the government’s furlough scheme being extended.

Merriman issued a comment on this issue, saying:

“This is not what people would expect from our national flag carrier. BA’s loyal staff deserve better than to be treated like this.”

What options are on the cards?

As mentioned previously, at this stage in proceedings, no firm action has been taken by either IAG or British Airways. In late April, the International Airlines Group announced that up to 12,000 jobs could be cut at British Airways. This figure is the worst-case scenario. However, it would represent around a third of the British Airways workforce.

IAG, British Airways, Job Consultation
Willie Walsh today said that British Airways would continue with its consultation. Photo: Stuart Bailey via Wikipedia

A memo that was seen by the BBC also mentioned that closing the airline’s London Gatwick base closing down could form part of the consultation. However, again, this is merely an option as opposed to a firm plan. Willie Walsh has since stated that it would be his personal preference that IAG maintains a presence at London’s southern airport.

What do you make of IAG’s decision to continue its consultations? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!