is to restructure its call centre operation in the UK in response to the growing number of customers who book flights on the airline’s website and the declining number of calls handled.
Telephone calls to the airline’s five call centres in the UK have fallen by 34 per cent in the last two years from 13 million to 8.5 million per year as the popularity of the internet continues to grow.
The airline has similarly reduced the number of staff employed in its UK call centre operation from 2,300 in 2001 to 1,400 today.
The five UK call centres now have an occupancy of just over 60 per cent and following an 18 month review, the airline intends to close centres in Glasgow and London and move the work to other British Airways call centres in Newcastle, Manchester and Belfast.
The intended closures are planned to take place in Glasgow by November 2004 and London by March 2005.
The intended closures of these two call centres will save British Airways more than £10 million during the next five years.
The planned changes will impact around 400 staff of which 350 are based in Glasgow and 50 in London. The changes will also lead to the recruitment of nearly 400 new positions in the airline’s call centres in Manchester, Newcastle and Belfast.
The airline will consult with the trade unions over the coming weeks over the proposed closure of the sites in Glasgow and London.
Pat Gaffey, head of British Airways Global Direct, which manages the airline’s worldwide call centre operation, said: “Our UK call centre operation has the same sized property portfolio as it did in 2001. Since 2001, our business and customer behaviour has changed, so we have reduced our headcount from 2,300 people to around 1,400.
“This difference between the amount of property we have in the UK and the number of employees we now have means we cannot afford, in our current financial position, to retain property which is not supporting the business.
“We intend to close Glasgow as we have, due to our lease terms, an imminent opportunity to leave the current building with minimal exit costs. It is not based on the performance of our people in Glasgow. We will be offering our people in Glasgow and London every support going forward.
“This decision is not about moving work or calls abroad and customers in the UK will still speak to operators based in our UK call centres.
“It is purely about reducing our costs and making our UK operation into a more effective and efficient operation.”