By Will Lee
British Airways Moves a Step Closer to Launch New Budget Carrier
After negotiations with the Unite union, the main labor union representing more than 10,000 cabin crew and ground workers of British Airways, the carrier has moved a step closer to launching a low-cost airline to operate short-haul routes from London Gatwick Airport.
Sean Doyle, the chief executive of British Airways said the plan of the new airline is “progressing well” and “it looks like to that we will be up and running to fly the summer schedule.”
Earlier, the airline has reached an agreement with the pilots. It is believed that the new carrier will own a fleet of 17 A320s and hire 160 pilots, and hundreds of cabin crew. Last year the airline made more than 400 pilots redundant and put another 300 fleet-less pilots on non-operational pay, as well as, making thousands of cabin crew redundant in an effort to curtail costs from the shut down of the aviation industry.
Unite said the new carrier could create jobs at the airport and the tourist industries will benefit from the new airline as well.
British Airways unveiled the plan of a new budget carrier at Gatwick to operate European routes in August, letting its base becomes “profitable and competitive” after many years of losing money on European flights from Gatwick.
As a result of the prolonged pandemic, Gatwick has lost its second place in the country, London’s Stansted Airport became the second busiest airport in the U.K during the pandemic, thanks mainly to Ryanair operating hundreds of flights a week at discounted prices to drive the recovery of passenger numbers. However, Gatwick is considering expanding its facilities by adding the second runway, the consultation is underway.
In the meantime, IAG, British Airway’s parent company has reported a loss of £2.1 billion ($2.83 billion) in the first nine months of 2021 and expects a £2.57 billion ($3.47 billion) loss this year. IAG also revealed its debut had reached £10.6 billion ($14.3 billion).
Luis Gallego, the CEO of IAG, was optimistic about the future. He has noticed the recovery of long-haul flights, the main sources of income, are faster than the short-haul flights. Also, Gallego is seeing the business travelers are returning to the skies, the booking between corporate hubs in the U.K. and Europe and the east coast of the U.S. have surged.
“There’s a significant recovery underway and our team is working hard to capture every opportunity. We continue to capitalize on the surge in bookings when travel restrictions are lifted.” He added.
Meanwhile, the reopening of the U.S border is paving the way for recovery. Gallego mentioned that it is a “pivotal moment”.
The U.K’s aviation industry celebrated the reopening of the U.S. border on Monday with British Airways and Virgin Atlantic making history as both airlines’ Airbus A350s departed from Heathrow’s runways simultaneously to New York’s JFK Airport.
In response to the reopening of the U.S. border, the U.K. government said it was “delighted to see flights return in time for Thanksgiving and Christmas.”