British Airways has launched a recruitment drive in an attempt to lower costs at London Heathrow Airport.
With the Unite union also threatening to ballot cabin crew over potential industrial action, British Airways will also look to mitigate the impact of any future strikes.
Branding current crew costs at Heathrow “way out of line” with competitors, British Airways outlined plans to recruit crew to form a separate fleet from those presently operating at the airport.
Officials at the airline hope to take on approximately 1,250 new staff in the first year, with the employees comprising 40 per cent of the total within a decade.
Commenting on the decision a British Airways spokesperson said: “We have suffered back-to-back record financial losses and need to continue making permanent changes to our cost base to ensure our long-term survival.
“It is common knowledge our Heathrow cabin crew costs are way out of line with our competitors and much more than our cabin crew costs at Gatwick.
“We can no longer afford this cost difference.”
British Airways lost a record £531 million in financial 2009/10, prompting chief executive Willie Walsh to call for “structural change” at the airline.
The airline was also quick to point out the changes would have no material impact on existing employees.
“In our discussions with Unite over the last 18 months, we have been absolutely open about our plans for future recruitment,” added the spokesperson.
“We have provided regular assurances to the union and our crew that these changes will not alter the individual contractual terms and conditions for current crew.”
BA states current crew earn approximately £25,700 for short-haul departures at Heathrow and £18,200 at Gatwick, while for long-haul routes it was almost £35,000 at Heathrow.
The new crew will fly on a separate fleet, in new cabin crew teams and not mixed with current crew. They will fly on both long and short-haul routes, added BA.
Current crew will have the option to apply to join the new crew fleet.