Ever since former-Vueling CEO Alex Cruz took over as the Cheif Executive of British Airways, there has been a tremendous amount of cuts to the flag carrier airline of the UK. Whether it’s to the onboard experience, ground service, or the cabin interiors…the airline has made various moves that position itself closer to a low-cost carrier, than the prestigious full-service legacy airline it once was.
Last summer, Britain’s The Sunday Times published a lengthy article named ‘‘ABBA —Anyone but British Airways’ which looked at the “turbulent times at the nation’s flag carrier” including the relatively frequent IT meltdowns, and deterioration in staff morale at the company.
In recent times, BA have appeared to have slowed down on the continuous stream of cuts at the airline, with new investments in several areas of the BA passenger experience, including premium car transfers between connecting flights at London Heathrow, improved Club Europe (Business Class) catering, and the launch of many new international routes, including Osaka, Japan — launching March 31, 2019.
However, cuts at British Airways have now stepped up a notch…
Four Months Ago
In May 2018, I received several emails from British Airways staff who were briefed on ‘substantial redundancies over the coming months.’ I consider my sources at the British airline to be very credible, and hence, I published a tweet regarding the ‘brace for redundancies’ warning.
Latest: I’m receiving multiple emails from British Airways staff who say they’ve been warned by the airline ‘to brace for substantial redundancies over the coming months’ pic.twitter.com/YvM4ogSKrL
— Alex Macheras (@AlexInAir) May 11, 2018
Fast Forward Four/Five Months
British Airways has now announced it has axed its entire Hong Kong-based crew, in a move that ‘BA Hong Kong International Cabin Crew Association’ has branded ‘absolutely inhumane and ugly.’
57 of the 85 Hong Kong-based flight attendants were made redundant immediately, and another 24 will be terminated at the end of this month.
“Staff were given a letter at a meeting with management on Wednesday, informing them their employment had been terminated with immediate effect” — association general secretary Carol Ng Man-yee said to SCMP. “We were only told about the meeting on Tuesday” she added.
While this is undoubtedly very distressing news for a large amount of Hong Kong-based staff who have been very loyal to the British company and are now out a job, the association general secretary warned “It would be naive for British Airways to think they can stop us from staging protests if they can fire us all quickly. There are still many ways of resistance. And they have not seen anything yet.”
While Hong Kong is certainly a premium route for the airline, IAG (the parent company owner of British Airways) highlighted BA’s Hong Kong to London Heathrow service as an ‘underperforming route’ at its last half-year financial earnings meeting. It also cited competition from fellow-oneworld partner Cathay Pacific as a reason for the unsatisfactory financials on BA’s route.
It’s a great shame to see the latest string of BA cuts directly affect their loyal staff. British Airways has been flying to Hong Kong for 82 years, and while the route will remain in place as normal, the termination of all Hong Kong-based crew will be a loss to passengers who received consistently excellent, warm service from a dedicated team of loyal Hong-Kongers, working for British Airways.
Running an external crew base can be very expensive for an airline, but this recent cut appears it could have been executed with a little more compassion, if only for the sake of the loyal Hong Kong-based crew.