Many BA flights for July moved from Gatwick to Heathrow, to rationalise operations there
British Airways is switching many short-haul flights from its second-biggest base, Gatwick, to Heathrow in July. BA has already warned that it may abandon Gatwick permanently, or drastically cut its operations there. For 30 years, Gatwick has been the base for BA’s leisure routes, including Mediterranean, Caribbean, Latin American and Indian Ocean destinations. BA Airways has a majority of the slots at Heathrow, but this summer it will use only a small fraction of them, for its much-reduced international network. The move may help the airline to cut costs, by increasing the efficiency of the operation at its main base, Heathrow. A daytime short haul holiday flight to the Mediterranean can be slotted in between early and late long haul trips, making better use of aircraft and crew. It will also remove some key BA routes from direct competition with easyJet, which is the dominant airline at Gatwick potentially enabling both airlines to increase fares. There may be more BA routes from Gatwick later in the summer, depending on how the Covid pandemic is being dealt with. BA has been described, by the Transport Select Committee, as a “national disgrace” for the way it has treated its staff, forcing them to leave, and then being re-employed on much worse contracts.
BRITISH AIRWAYS: MANY GATWICK FLIGHTS IN JULY SWITCHED TO HEATHROW
Exclusive: Test bookings for July on a range of traditional Gatwick routes, including Alicante, Faro, Jersey and Venice, found they are now departing from Heathrow
By Simon Calder, Travel Correspondent (The Independent)
British Airways is switching many short-haul flights from its second-biggest base, Gatwick Airport, to Heathrow in July.
Passengers booked on the affected flights, as well as BA flight crew employed at the Sussex hub, are being informed of the move.
The airline has already warned that it may abandon Gatwick permanently, or drastically cut its operations there.
For three decades, Gatwick has been the base for BA’s leisure-focused routes, including Mediterranean, Caribbean, Latin American and Indian Ocean destinations.
British Airways has a majority of the slots at Heathrow airport. For the rest of the summer season – which ends in October – it will use only a fraction of them for a much-reduced international network.
The Independent has made test bookings on a range of traditional Gatwick routes, including Alicante, Faro, Jersey and Venice, and found July departures are from Heathrow.
But flights to Barbados, Bermuda and Dubrovnik routes are still shown as departing from Gatwick.
The move may help British Airways cut costs, by increasing the efficiency of the operation at its main base, Heathrow.
A daytime holiday flight to the Mediterranean can be slotted in between early and late business-focused trips, making better use of aircraft and crew.
It will also remove some key BA routes from direct competition with easyJet, which is the dominant airline at the Sussex airport, potentially enabling both airlines to increase fares.
A spokesperson for British Airways said: “We recommend all customers check for the latest on their flight on ba.com.”
It is not clear if the airline will reimburse passengers who have additional expenses as a result of the airport switch.
European air passengers’ rights rules are ambivalent on the subject and BA has not responded to questions about it.
From August, British Airways is increasing its operations, with routes such as Catania in Sicily added from Gatwick.
On Saturday, BA was described as a “national disgrace” by MPs on the Transport Select Committee for what they called its “wanton destruction of a loyal workforce”.
In common with other airlines, British Airways is cutting about 30 per cent of staff – representing 12,000 out of 42,000 employees.
The airline wants to change the terms and conditions of its remaining 30,000 workers.
The committee said: “We urge British Airways to extend its consultation period to allow meaningful consultation to take place as per its legal requirements, and without pre-conditions.”
Willie Walsh, chief executive of BA’s parent company, IAG, responded: “British Airways is fighting for its survival, in the face of overwhelming and unprecedented challenges, while respecting the fundamental British value of the rule of law. This is not a disgrace. Lying down and surrendering without a fight would be a disgrace and we will not do that.”
Air France has just announced plans to cut 8,300 jobs – but through voluntary redundancy. Three hundred pilots, 2,000 cabin crew and 6,000 ground staff, representing about one sixth of the workforce, are expected to go.
Until March, Gatwick was the world’s busiest single-runway airport. On Monday this week, easyJet operated its first flight for 11 weeks, and is now running a skeleton service to and from the Sussex airport.
Norwegian has announced it will resume flying from Gatwick to both Copenhagen and Oslo in July.
Covid-19: Virgin Atlantic to cut 3,000 jobs and shut down Gatwick operations
Virgin Atlantic has announced it is to cut more than 3,000 jobs in the UK and end its operation at Gatwick airport, due to the collapse in air travel demand because of the Covid-19 pandemic. This comes soon after rival British Airways said it could not rule out closing its Gatwick operation. Virgin was Gatwick’s 9th largest airline, while British Airways was the 2nd largest, after EasyJet, which is largest – Norwegian is 3rd largest. Virgin Atlantic said it will move its flying programme from Gatwick to Heathrow, but it intends to keep its slots at Gatwick “so it can return in line with customer demand”. The job losses amount to about 30% of the total (the job losses at BA are 28%). Virgin Atlantic also plans to reduce the size of its aircraft fleet from 45 to 35 by the summer of 2022. Even the lobby group, Airlines UK admits that “Airlines are having to adapt to a sector that will be smaller and leaner in future, with no guarantees as to when we will return to pre-crisis levels.” When lockdown restrictions ease and flight schedules are increased again, there will be fewer passengers, fewer and probably more expensive flights and thousands of job losses. The area around Gatwick was too dependent on the airport for jobs etc.
BA to cut Gatwick operation and lay off 1,130 pilots – and might not return to Gatwick post-pandemic
British Airways plans, due to Covid, to lose more than 1,100 pilots and make heavy cuts to its Gatwick airport operation as part of 12,000 redundancies – which is up to 30% of its workforce. Letters sent to union representatives for all sections of the airline set out the deep cuts, as well as drastic changes to terms and conditions across the company. BA plans to lay off almost 80% of crew managers at Gatwick and 60% of other cabin crew, more than 1,100 of almost 1,900 staff. The jobs of just over 400 ground staff will be outsourced to the airport and its contractors. The airline knows “there is no certainty as to when services can return” to London City or Gatwick airports. So BA may not continue at Gatwick. And they had “not ruled out suspending the remainder of our Heathrow operation”. Ground staff at Heathrow are also likely to be forced to accept new contracts with significantly lower pay. All 4,346 BA pilots will be asked to sign new contracts changing their terms and conditions, and accept new rostering arrangements. BA will be seeking to lay off 1,130 pilots. Around 22,000 BA employees were furloughed in April and May.
Gatwick: Likely to take 4 years for passenger levels to recover to 2019 levels (if ever …)
Gatwick has said it will not ask the Treasury for emergency loans despite fearing that passenger numbers will not return to pre-Covid levels for up to 4 years. Gatwick has already secured a £300m loan from existing banks. It has also cancelled dividends, cut a lot of costs and furloughed around 2,000 staff. Boss Stewart Wingate said: “We think it is probably going to take somewhere between 3 and 4 years to get back to the levels that we were at in 2019.” Gatwick hopes it can ride out months of losses, but want to have flights re-starting by the end of May. Unlike rivals, Gatwick said “you should do absolutely everything you possibly can that is within your control to protect the business” before asking for state aid. Gatwick is open from 2-10pm each day, for a handful of flights. Unlike rival Heathrow, which gave out over £100 million in dividends to shareholders in February, Gatwick’s owners will not be taking a dividend despite the airport announcing an 8% rise in earnings of £432m in the 9 months to December 2019. There may not be dividends till 2022. It is possible that British Airways might leave Gatwick in due course.