July 22, 2020 / 9:40 PM / 13 days ago

UK pilots union recommends accepting reduced pay from British Airways

FILE PHOTO: A British Airways Boeing 747 is seen at the Heathrow Airport in London, Britain, July 17, 2020. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

(Reuters) - UK pilots’ union BALPA is recommending that its 4,300 members accept British Airways’ proposal of about 20% reduced pay and voluntary severance to limit the amount of forced job cuts, the union said on Wednesday.

British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) said as many as 270 pilots could be laid off but it expects voluntary mitigation measures to continue to reduce this number.

Earlier this year, British Airways, which is owned by International Consolidated Airlines Group (ICAG.L), was seeking to lay off a quarter of its pilots hurt by the coronavirus, according to a letter sent to their union and seen by Reuters.

Global curbs imposed to fight the pandemic have slammed air travel, placing the future of many airline companies in doubt.

“It is hugely disappointing that during our extensive negotiations British Airways would not accept the full package of mitigations we put forward which would have avoided any job losses at all, and at no cost to BA,” the union said.

Under the agreement, pilot pay cuts will start at 20% and will be reduced to 8% over the next two years, then further reduced toward zero over the longer term.

The 4,300 BA pilots will need to accept voluntary part time working, severance, and external secondments. About 300 pilots will be employed as holding pool on a reduced pay and will return to flying as demand picks up.

BA confirmed it reached an agreement with the union, adding BALPA is now balloting its members. The ballot will close on July 30.

There will be no “fire and rehire” of pilots, the union said. UK lawmakers criticized BA, alleging that it used a furlough “fire and rehire” scheme, a tactic used by companies forcing employees to accept inferior terms.

Reporting by Aakriti Bhalla and Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru

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