Posts Tagged ‘Willie Walsh’

British Airways cabin crew strikes could be over

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

British Airways passengers could soon breathe a sigh of relief as the disruptive battle between the airline and its cabin crew may finally be at an end. BA and Unite union bosses have reportedly agreed on a deal which they will be recommending to staff later today. It is believed that the airline may finally have backed down on the sticky issue of travel perks and agreed to return them to union members.

One of the longest running industrial disputes in recent history began 18 months ago when BA decided to implement cost cutting measures and reduce crew on some services. Following initial walkouts BA announced that striking staff would be relieved of their travel concessions, a move which resulted in deadlock between the two parties.

Late last year, a glimmer of hope that the fighting was finally at an end came when former chief executive of BA, Willie Walsh, and former Unite leader, Tony Woodley, agreed terms at the negotiating table. However, hard liners at BASSA, the Unite arm representing stewards and stewardesses, refused to accept the deal.

Since then, Mr Walsh has been replaced by Keith Williams and Len McCluskey now heads Unite. Although cabin crew recently voted to stage further walkouts, Unite has been cautious about officially announcing strike dates and BA has been willing to extend the time in which these dates legally have to be announced.

This has led many to believe that, at last, both the airline and the union believe they can come to a mutually beneficial solution to the problem.

BA calls in psychologist for union negotiations

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

The ongoing conflict between British Airways and the union representing it cabin crew could soon be over as a clinical psychologist is brought in to help. The Unite union has until the weekend to let BA know whether there will be disruption over the Easter weekend. Last month, crew members voted for a fourth time to walk out if the airline did not offer to concede to demands.

Mark Hamlin, who claims to specialise in fragility of trust, has reportedly met with senior members of the airline and union bosses. He said that he was involved with helping Unite, BA and cabin crew representatives construct a more effective working relationship. He added that he hoped that in doing this the wider issues surrounding the conflict would be resolved.

It is thought that a resolution is more likely now that former BA boss Willie Walsh has been removed from the equation. Keith Williams replaced him as chief executive at the beginning of the year and has expressed a wish for a good working relationship with the airline’s cabin crew.

Unite has until the weekend to inform BA of any strike action and also has to give seven days notice. Unfortunately for the carrier’s customers this could result in disruption over the Easter weekend.

Last year there were 22 days of strike action. BA claims that contingency plans it has in place mean that even if cabin crew do walk out nearly all of its scheduled services will continue to run as normal.

British Airways keen to cement Japan Airlines partnership

Friday, April 1st, 2011

International Consolidated Airlines Group boss Willie Walsh has said the British Airways will continue to run a full service to Japan following the devastating earthquake and tsunami which hit the north of the country earlier last month. He has also confirmed that the carrier is interested in cementing its links with Japan Airlines following its recent emergence from bankruptcy protection.

The state run Enterprise Turnaround Initiative, responsible for bailing the carrier out, has announced its intention to sell its controlling share of the company. Walsh has consistently maintained that he wishes to grow IAG by merging with other international airlines and has already had meetings with banks and Japan Airlines’ bosses.

The announcement follows a decision by All Nippon Airways to enter into a venture with Europe’s second largest carrier Lufthansa. Peter Harbison, of the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation, said a tie-up would make good business and strategic sense.

According to spokeswoman for Japan Airlines, Sze Hunn Yap, the company is keen to follow up a number of ideas with BA about how the pair can cooperate. As both are members of the Oneworld alliance there are already codeshare agreements in place. Japan Airlines, as part of its bankruptcy protection agreement, has already managed to secure financing and has retired aircraft and cut its workforce by around a third.

The Tokyo-based carrier is due to finalise a deal with American Airlines which will see increased cooperation on transpacific services. Walsh said he would like to see a similar tie-up with BA on routes between Europe and Asia.

Arab carriers grow capacity at Manchester airport

Monday, March 21st, 2011

A number of Middle Eastern airlines have recently announced that they will be increasing passenger capacity out of Manchester Airport. Emirates has said that because customer demand was consistently high from the northern city it would be adding a service to Dubai on 1 May. Fellow Arab carrier Qatar Airways has also announced that it will be adding capacity between Manchester and Abu Dhabi on 1 August and Etihad will be doing the same between Manchester and Doha on 1 June.

All three are currently engaged in growing the size of their fleets. Emirates will add 45,000 seats through Dubai with an order which will grow its A380 superjumbo fleet to 90 planes. Etihad has 100 new passenger jets on order and Qatar a further 178.

By targeting Manchester, the Middle Eastern carriers are hoping to challenge the large international carriers operating out of the UK’s busiest hub, Heathrow. British Airways, which quit flying long-haul operations from Manchester in 2008, said it was not worried by the challenge because the airlines were not posing a threat on current services.

Willie Walsh, BA’s former CEO, said the carrier had tried to make a profit out of Manchester and had failed to do so. The airline, which recently merged with Iberia to create International Consolidate Airlines Group, is concentrating on growing its presence across the Atlantic to North and Latin America.

According to Irene Hulme, of luxury agents Travel by Design, many customers prefer to begin their journey in Manchester rather than suffer the crowds at Heathrow.

Leading travel agents introduce fuel surcharges on holidays

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

The rising price of crude oil and the continuing political and social instability in the Middle East has caused major UK travel agents to announce they will be adding fuel surcharges to the price of their holidays. Both Thomas Cook and Thomson have announced levies which could increase the price of an airline ticket by as much as £40 per person.

Thomson will be hiking its holiday prices from Friday and Thomas Cook has made the additional charges applicable immediately. The levies are also a response to the rising cost of jet fuel over the past year which has gone up by some 40 per cent.

Spokesman for Thomas Cook in the UK, Ian Ailles, said the travel agent had been working hard to keep the affects of rising fuel costs away from its customers. However, the problems being faced in the Middle East and uncertainty over just how high the price of a barrel of oil will go have made the additional charges unavoidable.

Thomas Cook customers will now have to fork out an additional £15 when taking a short-haul flight lasting under three hours. Flights lasting more than three hours but less than seven will mean an additional £25 per passenger and any long-haul journeys taking more than seven hours will see a customer’s bill go up by £40.

International Airlines Group chief executive Willie Walsh said he was unable to rule out additional increases in fuel levies. The airline pushed up prices at the beginning of February and said it would continue to closely monitor the situation.

IAG prepares for drop in demand in the Middle East

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

The newly formed International Airlines Group has announced a €90 million net profit for the final quarter of last year ending 31 December. The figure is an improvement on a deficit of €130 million recorded for the same period a year earlier. The reversal of fortune is mainly due to better yields and revenue on a limited growth in capacity.

IAG’s chief executive, former BA boss Willie Walsh, said the airline was following the events in the Middle East and watching for the impact on the price of oil. He added that the group was prepared to begin reducing capacity in the region if the price of oil began affecting demand.

Both Iberia and BA recently passed on around 50 per cent of the increasing price of oil to customers as a fuel surcharge. However, the airlines claim that so far they have not seen any significant drop in demand from passengers on long-haul services. Walsh went on to say that if Middle Eastern traffic was to fall away it would only affect some six per cent of IAG’s business.

The group said it continued to see strong performance in its long-haul services across the board, especially in the premium sector. Short-haul business in Europe is however still struggling against extremely strong competition, especially from the budget carriers.

Before completing the merger with Iberia, BA was able to turn a loss of £245 million in 2009 into £170 million net profit in 2010. This was despite continuing problems with cabin crew, air traffic control strikes and disruption caused by severe winter weather in December.

British Airways faces fresh wave of strikes

Monday, January 24th, 2011

British Airways customers planning to go away with the airline over the school half-term or at Easter may have to rethink their plans as cabin crew once again vote in favour of industrial action. Although no dates have yet been confirmed, the union has not ruled out staging strikes over the holidays.

The latest ballot to strike was supported by 78.5 per cent of those who turned out. According to Len McCluskey, the general secretary elect of Unite, the vote proves that staff at BA are still unhappy with the way in which they are being treated.

In October last year it looked as if the long-running row between BA and the union had come to an end as the airline’s chief executive, Willie Walsh, and joint general secretary of Unite, Tony Woodley, finally agreed on a solution. However, more militant members of the union were not happy and called for the latest ballot.

According to a spokesman for BA the latest ballot was only supported by 43 per cent of crew members. He added that since the dispute started 2,500 members of the airline’s cabin crew have actually left the union. He went on to say that contrary to what union bosses claim, the percentage of those voting in favour of industrial action is falling every time a ballot is announced.

He urged Unite to look again at the deal which was agreed in October pointing out that it guaranteed pay rises for staff over the coming two years and secured conditions which are already the best in the British airline industry.

BA accused of bullying by Unite

Monday, January 10th, 2011

A survey conducted by the union representing the interests of British Airways’ cabin crew suggests that most employees of the airline have witnessed or been the subject of bullying. The result of the poll of 2,000 employees is unlikely to ease tensions between the flag-carrier and its staff.

A dispute between cabin crew and the airline is entering its third year with no sign of a resolution. The row started out as a protest against staffing cuts, but has since morphed into a battle over travel perks. If the latest vote is in favour of industrial action then cabin crew could walk out by the end of January.

Tony Woodley, Unites outgoing general secretary, urged BA boss Willie Walsh to return to the negotiating table. He said the company’s war on its workforce was ruining what was once a great airline. BA has assured passengers that if fresh strike action goes ahead it will still be running all long-haul flights. Services will also not be affected at either Gatwick or City airports.

Len McCluskey, Unites new leader, will be talking to members of the union at a meeting at Kempton Park today. He is expected to announce his total support for BA’s cabin crew for as long as it takes them to reach a deal with the carrier.

A spokeswoman for BA said it completely disagreed with any accusations of bullying in the workplace. She added that the carrier had very strict regulations in place for dealing with such behaviour and that these regulations had been agreed upon with Unite.

Recession responsible for 25% drop in air travel

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

An analysis of airline statistics by the Civil Aviation Authority has revealed that the number of people travelling in premium class plunged by nearly a quarter as the world’s economies went into recession. In 2008, after the Lehman Brothers’ collapse, there was a 4.6 per cent drop in travel in and out of Britain by air.

In 2009, according to the CAA, there was a further drop of 22.2 per cent. Over the first half of 2010 a fall of 28 per cent was recorded on a year earlier. However, it is important to note that as well as the recession, carriers were hit by the effects of airline strikes and an ash cloud which closed European airspace for six days.

Worst hit through 2009 were flights between Europe and the UK which were down by 25 per cent. Travel between the US and the UK was also badly affected as numbers plummeted by 20 per cent. As well as less people boarding aircraft there was also a significant shift away from premium class tickets to budget carriers and economy class.

British Airways’ chief executive, Willie Walsh, said he saw no real reason why those travelling on short-haul journeys would decide to reverse the trend for choosing no frills travel.

CAA regulations director, Harry Bush, agrees with this, pointing out that price cuts to companies travel budgets were likely to remain in place and, although there is evidence that some are returning to premium class, many may have been converted to the cash saving advantages of economy.

BA and Iberia plan further acquisitions through IAG

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

British Airways and Spanish airline Iberia have announced that they are planning on acquiring other global airlines, once their own merger into International Airlines Group (IAG) is finalised later this year. The announcement was made by BA head Willie Walsh during a recent visit to Mumbai, and although he said there are some 12 potential global firms which are under the IAG microscope, there have been no discussions as of yet ith any of the other airlines.

Mr Walsh said that BA and Iberia have looked at as many as 40 international carriers in their current search for new acquisitions, and have narrowed the list down to 12. He went on to add that there have not yet been any talks with the companies on the IAG list, although the search is focused on finding firms with similar strategic consolidation interests, which both BA and Iberia believe is good for the airline industry.

The merger between British Airways and Iberia into International Airlines Group is expected to be finalised later this year, and once the process is complete, the group will be one of the largest airlines in the world. The firm will be based in London, and both BA and Iberia will continue running day-to-day operations independently, although they will be under the same IAG corporate umbrella.