British Airways has reported its biggest annual loss due to lower passenger numbers, higher costs and the impact of strike action. The flag carrier lost £531m ($766m) in the 12 months to March - BA's biggest loss since it was privatised in 1987.
That adds to the £401m it lost in the 2008-9 financial year, but as it was less than expected, BA shares rose.
The results come as BA faces 15 more days of strike action by cabin crew, due to begin on Monday. (source BBC)
Now this is a worrying time for British Airways but apparently not for their cabin crew. Amazingly Unite were yesterday celebrating the fact that the ban on industrial action was overturned.
So why are they striking?
The BBC neatly summarise Unite’s stance here . But in short they are protesting against job cuts, a pay freeze as well as trying to ensure that new recruits are paid more than twice the industry average, just like current staff. Are these people for real?
BA’s huge loses are in stark contrast to budget airlines which have managed to make a profit due to their low underlying costs. BA has to cut costs otherwise it will be in danger of going bust, in the long-term, and it can only do so by also reducing head count as well wage costs.
If cabin crew thought about it for one second, agreeing to a pay freeze and revised packages for new recruits may save some of their over paid jobs. I personally know people who work in other areas of British Airways and they don’t agree with the strike action.
In fact according to BA’s chief executive Willie Walsh "structural change has been achieved in many parts of the business and our engineers and pilots have voted for permanent change."
The strike action is damaging the hand that feeds the already over-fed cabin crew and rather than pull together as a company they are putting other BA employees’ jobs at risk. (the strike earlier in the year cost the company an estimated £43m!). I for one have avoided booking with BA for fear of future strike action affecting my holiday plans. This tarnishing of reputation as well as the strike action will do nothing to help turn around BA’s fortune, although the £1.7bn they have in the bank means that they can trade at a loss for a while yet.
The irony is not lost on me that before each flight I have to watch the cabin crew demonstrate where the exit door is. Maybe one or two of them should use it.