By Rob Morris
British carrier says Middle East staff are so far not being considered for redundancies.
British Airways insisted on Tuesday “no target” for cutting staff in the Middle East has been set as it mulls further worldwide redundancies.
The British carrier, which employs 172 employees across the region, proposed slashing 3,700 workers by next March during talks with staff last week.
While BA unions rejected the proposal, management is still looking for ways to cut costs after reporting a $649.4m loss before tax for the year to March 31 – a massive drop from the previous year’s $922m profit.
But the airline told Arabian Business that Middle East workers are so far not being considered for redundancies.
“We are facing the harshest trading environment in our history and it is essential that we make cost savings across the company. However, we have set no target for headcount reductions in this region,” a BA spokesperson said.
“We have offered a range of options to staff in the region including part-time working and unpaid leave. So far, more than 40% of staff in the region have volunteered to participate in these cost-saving initiatives.”
The airline added that the Middle East remains “top of our global business agenda” after re-launching flights to Saudi Arabia on May 31.
“Essentially, the Middle East continues to be a key growth market for British Airways and although we believe the strength of our regional commercial proposition holds us in good stead in terms of profitability, we aren’t resting on our laurels,” the spokesperson said.
“We remain committed to investing in industry-leading products and services and will continue to do everything we can to ensure we are continually providing the highest standards of service.”
BA said that while scaling back flights and frequencies to the Middle East was not on the agenda, some “tactical cancellations” had been made. The airline has cancelled its service between Dubai and Heathrow on some days in August, although passengers will be accommodated on other flights.
Despite its financial woes, BA said it would operate a new first class service on long-haul routes, including services to the Middle East. The carrier also insisted it was offering year round competitive fares across all cabins following complaints from passengers in recent years about high prices.
To stem financial losses, BA’s management has urged staff to take pay cuts in recent months after already shedding 2,500 jobs. It is also reportedly planning to defer A380 orders, ground aircraft and cut summer and winter capacity.
It was only on June 21 when some high-handed local BA official was poo-pooing the idea of asking local staff to take pay cuts. No, better, off with their heads! This airline not only serves awful food, even when you turn left, but treats you like a parcel and not a client. They deserve to fail. Who would choose their shoddy service over Eithad, Emirates or Qatar?
get rid of Willie Walsh for a start ! The man has never appreciated the efforts of the staff that he has and always looks to cutting his staff or their wages to answer the airlines problems! The cabin crew are demoralised already by the managerial policies being implemented upon them all the time. In turn in reflects in BA service and the general public vote with their wallets to fly with other airlines ! It just goes around in a circle !