Union-funded poll shows large majority in favour of taking away British Airways slots at Heathrow

British Airways should lose some of its valuable slots at Heathrow airport, according to a poll commissioned by the Unite union.

The union, which represents many BA cabin crew, says two out of three of the public believe the current landing slot arrangements should be reviewed.

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In practice, the only airport with landing rights of significant value is Heathrow, where British Airways has slightly over half the slots.

BA has faced widespread criticism for what Unite says is a “fire and rehire” scheme.

The airline plans to make 12,000 of its 42,000 staff redundant, and change employment terms for the remainder.

A poll of more than 2,000 people, three out of five of them British Airways passengers, found 61 per cent of the public believe BA is taking advantage of the coronavirus crisis to boost shareholder profits.

Almost seven out of 10 agreed that “the current landing slot arrangements should be reviewed”. The figure rose to 76 per cent among Conservative voters.

Unite’s executive officer, Sharon Graham, said:“It’s clear that Britain wants the government to get tough on the nation’s flag carrying airline for its disgraceful plans to fire and rehire its staff while cutting thousands of jobs.

”The airline is stripping its loyal workforce of their terms and conditions while sacking thousands in the middle of a health crisis.

“If BA press ahead to create a new and unrecognisable airline, it should not continue to benefit from its domination of lucrative legacy take-off and landing slots.

“British Airways has lost the trust of its workforce, politicians and the country.

“The only way British Airways can retrieve its reputation as the world’s best loved airline and protect its lucrative landing slots, is to withdraw its unprecedented attack on staff and enter into sensible negotiations.”

Unite said that almost half (49 per cent) of those polled who have travelled with BA in the past say they are less likely to use the airline in the future given the dispute.

British Airways says that Unite, as well as GMB, representing ground staff, has refused to engage with its proposals.

A spokesperson for British Airways said: ​“We are acting now to protect as many jobs as possible. The airline industry is facing the deepest structural change in its history, as well as facing a severely weakened global economy.

“We call on Unite and GMB to consult with us on our proposals as our pilot union, Balpa, is doing. Working together we can protect more jobs as we prepare for a new future.”

A former British Airways executive told The Independent: “Unite is advocating the removal of BA’s landing rights, which would lead to a smaller schedule and less revenue, and which in turn would directly harm the employment prospects and earnings of union members.”

British Airways is believe to be losing £20m a day. It is retiring a number of aircraft, including its Boeing 747 fleet.

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