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British Airways plans subsidiary for short-haul flights at Gatwick

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British Airways is planning to launch a subsidiary to operate short-haul flights at Gatwick Airport (Gareth Fuller/PA) (PA Archive)
British Airways is planning to launch a subsidiary to operate short-haul flights at Gatwick Airport (Gareth Fuller/PA) (PA Archive)

British Airways is planning to launch a subsidiary to operate short-haul flights at Gatwick Airport.

The unnamed airline would run alongside its parent company’s long-haul operation at the West Sussex airport.

BA has suspended its domestic and European routes serving Gatwick during the coronavirus pandemic.

This will help us to be both agile and competitive

British Airways

The carrier’s management committee sent an internal letter to staff, seen by the PA news agency, which read: “This was previously a highly competitive market, but for us to run a sustainable airline in the current environment, we need a competitive operating model.

“Because of that, we are proposing a new operating subsidiary to run alongside our existing long-haul Gatwick operation, to serve short-haul routes to/from Gatwick from summer 2022.

“This will help us to be both agile and competitive, allowing us to build a sustainable short-haul presence at Gatwick over time.”

The letter said that the “cautious approach of governments” has undermined customer confidence and means the recovery of air travel “remains far behind where we need it to be”.

Employees were told that the airline’s pay costs will “steeply increase” once the UK’s furlough scheme ends on September 30, which is “bad news”.

The message stated that BA’s schedule and operating costs for the remainder of the year “will not line up”.

It added: “We believe that this will be a temporary problem, but it’s a serious one which we need to manage.

“This means we’re going to have to be as flexible as possible when it comes to the way we work, to help mitigate the situation over the coming months.”

BA said in a statement it is “working with our unions on proposals for a short-haul operation at Gatwick”.

Martin Chalk, acting general secretary of pilots’ union Balpa, said: “Balpa cautiously welcomes this decision to restart BA short-haul operations at London Gatwick and create a number of much-needed new pilot jobs.

“Balpa and BA are in the final stages of negotiations over the revised pay and conditions for Gatwick-based BA pilots and we hope to bring these talks to a conclusion shortly.”

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