British Airways is operating “ghost flights” to train ground staff as cabin crew in order to minimise the potential disruption should strikes go ahead next month. Flights are operating from Heathrow to Cardiff and Glasgow to allow them to gain experience in the air, with colleagues pretending to be passengers.
BA usually trains its cabin crew on scheduled services with paying customers, and working alongside experienced staff. However the emergency crews are undergoing intensive training.
The airline confirmed that the ghost flights were being arranged for training purposes, but claimed they “serve a purpose”.
A spokeswoman told The Times: “As part of the Civil Aviation Authority-approved training course our volunteer cabin crew are doing, they have to take part in a day of flight familiarisation.”
“It is a good opportunity for our volunteer crews to work as a team on board a flight and familiarise themselves with the equipment and procedures on board.”
Workers union Unite received an 81% vote from members in support of industrial action, which could start at any point up to 18 March.
BA has told its 25,000-strong ground staff they could be trained as stand-in cabin crew after 21 days’ instruction at its Heathrow training facility.
The union claimed the airline could train only a fraction of the 12,000 cabin crew it employs to run 650 flights a day.