Airline pilots slam Terminal 5 debacle

British Airways plane

[7th April 2008]

The British Airline Pilots' Association has published an Open Letter calling for change in the way British Airways is managed following what it calls 'the Terminal 5 debacle'.

“We have quietly gone about our jobs since the Terminal 5 debacle, but pilots can no longer stay silent. It is their company’s reputation that is on the line and their futures. BA management has taken its eye off the ball and it is time UK plc held them to account,” says BALPA general secretary, Jim McAuslan.

In an Open Letter to city institutions and the government BALPA highlights what it regards as the problems with BA. “Failings on the opening days of T5 are symptomatic of BA’s loss of focus in delivering a sound operation. This airline can and should make Britain proud but a fundamental change of attitude is required from the very highest levels of BA management,” the letter begins.

BALPA believes that BA has got the fundamentals wrong including, not surprisingly, baggage handling. “The British Airline Pilots’ Association has for several years pressed BA to focus on operational integrity – punctuality, baggage delivery and product quality. Get that right and the customers will keep coming back in today’s highly competitive aviation market and we can look to growth and exporting the brand,” it writes.

The letter goes on: “It is with great sorrow and acute embarrassment that BA pilots have witnessed the unhappy, distressing shambles that the opening of T5 has become. BA pilots have reacted in the right way by once again going the extra mile to solve problems and extend their working duties to maximum legal limits in order to minimise the suffering of our customers and protect the company they love and the uniform they wear. This has been done despite the background of a pending industrial dispute.”

BALPA suggests that the disastrous opening of Terminal 5 will have widespread repercussions: “The ramifications of what is going on in BA will be felt far more widely. Our reputation as a country has been harmed no end. Support for a 3rd runway has taken a direct hit".

Whilst the letter is addressed to the City and government, it will be interesting to see how BA responds. There is still the possibility of a strike by BA pilots over the airline's new OpenSkies subsidiary.

Written by: Nick Purdom


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Airline Pilots Slam Terminal 5 Debacle