'Ethically outrageous' BA faces losing prize landing slots


Transport minister, Kelly Tolhurst, has warned that airline companies like British Airways that cut staff and reduce terms face losing the most lucrative landing and take-off slots in British airports.

Having received an emergency question on the behaviour of British Airways, Ms Tolhurst said the slots allocation was something she would look into.

Chair of the Transport Select Committee, Huw Merriman, said of British Airways: 'The only airline who is effectively sacking its entire 42,000 workforce and replacing it with 30,000 jobs on inferior terms. BA have tried this before, but its workforce resisted. It's ethically outrageous that our national flag-carrier is doing this at a time when the nation is at its weakest and when we expect the country to do its bit.'

He asked the minister if the Civil Aviation Authority would to undertake 'an urgent review into reallocating lucrative landing slots at Heathrow' away from companies that are downsizing and handing them to those that wish to expand.

BA has 51% of Heathrow's landing slots, including the most profitable to JFK.

He also asked if the Government would review the Job Retention scheme to stop employers using the scheme whilst simultaneously putting those same employees on redundancy notice.

Ms Tolhurst said the scheme was under constant review and the Treasury would be taking note of how companies behaved.

On BA, she said: 'I would not expect employers to use the pandemic as an opportunity to slash terms and conditions. In matters of crisis like this, you would hope that all organisations would treat their employees with the social responsibility you would expect. I will be doing everything I can in my power in order to make sure that is understood.

'Government is currently legally prevented from intervening from these slots allocation process, however, we want airport landing and take-off slots to be used as effectively as possible for UK consumers.

'As the UK aviation market recovers from the impact of this terrible disease, i want to ensure the slots allocation process encourages competition and provides connectivity so this is something I will be looking at.'

She also announced 'a restart, recovery and engagement unit to work with the aviation industry on the future of the industry after the pandemic'.

She told the House of Commons that as part of this work, the Department for Transport had 'established a restart and recovery steering group formed of representatives from across the sector including airports airlines and ground handlers, industry bodies and unions'.

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