Pilots criticism boosts BA woes

8th Apr 2008

The British Airline Pilots’ Association has published an Open Letter to city institutions and to the Government calling for a change in how British Airways is managed.

Jim McAuslan, General Secretary of BALPA said: “We have quietly gone about our jobs since the Terminal 5 debacle, but pilots can no longer stay silent. It is their company’s reputation that is on the line and their futures. BA management has taken its eye of the ball and it is time UK plc held them to account.”

This is the text of the Open Letter:

“Failings on the opening days of T5 are symptomatic of BA’s loss of focus in delivering a sound operation. This airline can and should make Britain proud but a fundamental change of attitude is required from the very highest levels of BA management.”

Copyright www.dreamstime.com"The British Airline Pilots’ Association has for several years pressed BA to focus on operational integrity - punctuality, baggage delivery and product quality. Get that right and the customers will keep coming back in today’s highly competitive aviation market and we can look to growth and exporting the brand.”


“It is with great sorrow and acute embarrassment that BA pilots have witnessed the unhappy, distressing shambles that the opening of T5 has become. BA pilots have reacted in the right way by once again going the extra mile to solve problems and extend their working duties to maximum legal limits in order to minimize the suffering of our customers and protect the Company they love and the uniform they wear. This has been done despite the background of a pending Industrial dispute.”

“This month sees a massive increase in direct competition on BA’s most lucrative routes from the home base at Heathrow. We also see consolidation in this industry on an unprecedented scale; consolidation in the likes of Air France and KLM that has yielded benefits from synergies of a level way beyond simple direct cost reduction. And BA’s response? Messing up its home base and dabbling with aircraft operating from Paris and London City to New York.”

“Banks, institutional investors and analysts need to wake up to the fact that there is something very wrong right at the heart of this company that is making our once great brand a laughing stock. The margins may look good (for this industry anyway) but the financial establishment’s pre-occupation with the bottom line has glossed over the warning signs . These warning signs have been there for some time for those with eyes to see and ears to hear: holding up the punctuality table; reports from many influential opinion formers of quality standards nose-diving; a return to the 70s on lost baggage long before the T5 debacle; the growing reluctance to answering questions; the clear irritability with differing points of view; fronting up, in full public gaze, to the Prime Minister on the issue of a religious cross; taking court cases to appeal, and still losing; threatening its own pilot workforce’s association with bankruptcy when it should have been focussed on exploiting the gift-wrapped ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity of a move to T5 (as we warned in January). We want confidence in our leadership, not arrogance.”

“BA proclaims that 400 people (a massive 1% of the workforce) turned up last weekend to help sort baggage, but two weekends ago 1,300 pilots and their families marched on BA’s headquarters complaining about the creation of a new European offshoot ‘OpenSkies’ which will use BA money and BA aircraft but not BA pilots because BA say they may ‘contaminate’ this start-up operation. No wonder team spirit and respect are in short supply; and ironically the ‘feather in the cap’ of sorting out BA’s pension crisis was actually a team effort with a huge injection of pilot ingenuity, common sense and pragmatism rather than the new CEO on his white charger.”

“The ramifications of what is going on in BA will be felt far more widely. Our reputation as a country has been harmed no end. Support for a 3rd runway has taken a direct hit. Questions at the IOC will be asked. When you are running a national icon you have responsibility for far more stakeholders than shareholders.”

“So my question to the UK’s financial establishment and Government of BA is this: when are you going to listen with all your senses as to what is happening inside our business and when are you going to act on how it is ‘led’?”



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