British Airways is set to avoid a damaging pilots’ strike after agreeing the outline of a pay deal following months of negotiations.
The agreement brokered with the British Airline Pilots’ Association union includes a 4 per cent pay rise for this year.
“We are pleased to have agreed a pay proposal in principle with Balpa, which will now be put to members with a recommendation from the union,” BA said.
The truce between senior executives at the airline and the union has in effect shut down the likelihood of a major pilots’ strike in the coming months.
The news will come as a boost to BA, which has endured a difficult year of travel disruption and was forced to cut back its schedule over the summer because of staffing shortages.
The package includes the end to a controversial pay deduction scheme agreed with Balpa in spring 2020 to avoid mass redundancies.
The union has argued that the agreement forged in the heat of the pandemic should be cancelled now BA is making money again as passengers return to the skies.
IAG, the airline’s parent company, has forecast an operating profit of about €1.2bn for the three months to September, far exceeding analysts’ expectations.
“Following long and difficult negotiations, Balpa has now negotiated an agreement in principle to remove this pay cut and deliver a pay increase in 2022, while paving the way for pay negotiations for 2023,” the union said.
“This agreement will now be recommended to our members to accept,” it added.
The carrier has also agreed to additional pay rises for pilots who were made redundant during the pandemic but have now returned.
Pilots’ strikes are rare, but highly damaging to any airline. BA was hit by the first such strike in its history in 2019 when staff staged a 48-hour walkout that saw 2,325 flights cancelled, and a cost of about €137mn for IAG.
The incident was one of the most damaging industrial disputes in BA’s history, and badly weakened then chief executive Alex Cruz.
His successor Sean Doyle has made repairing relations with staff a priority as the carrier emerges from the pandemic, and earlier this year pledged to put staff “back into the heart” of the company.
The airline avoided a summer strike by check-in staff after agreeing pay deals with the Unite and GMB unions in July.
Unions have reported a string of pay deals across the transport industry in recent weeks, including a 10.5 per cent pay rise for 3,000 London bus drivers agreed between Unite and Go-Ahead.
Several other disputes remain deadlocked, however, including at the ports of Liverpool and Felixstowe, where there have been waves of strikes this autumn.
Agreements have also been harder to reach in the public sector, and the RMT union has this month balloted its members again, in a bid to take its campaign of strike action on the railways into next year.