British Airways cabin crew received a 5 percent pay rise last year despite the flag carrier making record losses, and its rivals cutting or freezing salaries.
New figures released by the Civil Aviation Authority show that the average annual salary of BA’s 12,000 cabin crew rose to £31,400 last year, up 5 percent from £29,900 in 2008.
The findings comes as the airline has submitted new proposals on pay and staffing levels in a bid to avoid a third round of industrial action.
BA said that the recent round of strikes cost it £45 million as the carrier scrambled to book passengers onto other flights and hired outside planes and crew to boost services. This also resulted in 200,000 fewer passengers flying with the airline.
In this week’s staff newsletter, British Airways News, Chief Executive Willie Walsh said: “I very much hope that our customers are not once again disrupted by unnecessary action,” adding that he “genuinely” believes the new offer will be acceptable to cabin crew. “But I am confident that we are ready.”
Last year the airline lost £401 million and is forecast to lose a further £600 million this year. As part of its cost cutting programme, it aims to reduce cabin crew budgets.
It cut the number of crew on its long-haul services in November, prompting the union to make a ballot for strike action. It also gave hundreds voluntary redundancy but says it need to make further reductions in its battle for survival.
Unite must give a week’s notice of any new industrial action. The union also has to start a strike within 28 days of the last one, meaning that it would have to announce a walkout by April 20, unless British Airways agrees to extend the authority granted by the ballot.
Unite spokesman Andrew Murray said talks with British Airways were making “serious progress”, but neither the union nor BA would discuss terms of the proposals.
The level of BA cabin crew wages has been criticised within the industry. Virgin Atlantic’s crew had their pay frozen at £14,400, whilst bmi crew had a 6.5 per cent average reduction to £17,200. Thomas Cook and Monarch cut crew pay by about 13 per cent.
BA’s pilots are also amongst the best paid within the industry. Average salaries of BA pilots rose marginally last year to £108,400. This compared with a 10 per cent cut in pilot wages at easyJet, which paid an average of £64,500.
The CAA salary figures for 2009 include gross basic pay, overtime, flying bonuses and subsistence allowances.