BA’s 10-abreast 777 cabin -Photo credit British Airways
So, it looks rather as if the frankly ridiculous addition of extra seats on BA 777s based at Gatwick might be one of the reasons for over 99% of the Cabin Crew based there, who voted, choosing to go down the path of an industrial dispute with the airline.
According to the Cabin Crew focused website paddleyourownkanoo, British Airways cabin crew at Gatwick earn less than those at Heathrow. Additionally, rather than selling the concept of more comfort and personal space, BA’s top brass decided to cram more seats into the 777 by adding an extra seat per row. That’s great (well, it really isn’t), but when they did, the Unite union negotiated extra crew rest seats to avoid having to have three breaks, rather than the two they had before the extra seats went in.
Of course, crew using rest seats costs revenue – Unite reckoning it’s £1m a year, and the union now thinks the airline is trying to recover that lost revenue by shortening their “downroute” (ie away from London) turnarounds on some trips, which would be in contravention of a memorandum of understanding between union and airline.
Additionally, cabin crew, pilots and ground staff at Heathrow are asking for a 5% pay rise this year, and increased profit sharing, and it seems that BA’s offer falls below this. Unions there haven’t decided what to do yet, but you can bet your last penny that they’ll walk out en masse if they feel they’re being short changed.
This cannot be good news – strikes cause misery for travellers, and Gatwick is primarily a holiday flight airport, and having your holidays affected is way worse than missing a business meeting in my book. let’s hope they sort themselves out.