It’s being reported that British Airways has suspended five of their pilots over email messages. All of these allegations involve pilots who also work (or worked) part-time for BALPA (British Airline Pilots Association), which is British Airways’ pilot union.
As one pilot described the situation, ‘being a union rep is a very alpha-male, testosterone-driven, locker-room-type role’. Love those people!
This all came to the surface after a 46 year old Boeing 777 captain, Manish Patel, quit as a BALPA rep last year and filed an employment tribunal against the union. Here’s what allegedly happened:
He alleges that he endured racist comments, including being called ‘P*** lad’ and ‘chai wallah’, as well as inappropriate jokes that he also worked as a taxi driver or ran a corner shop.
It is understood that he admits sending offensive emails himself, but says he did so only to fit in. Last night Balpa said his claim is ‘strenuously denied and will be robustly defended’.
However, this newspaper has seen six messages sent by Captain Brendan O’Neal, a senior union official, to Captain Patel in which the ‘N-word’ is used.
In one, sent in November 2012 as union reps organised a Christmas pub lunch, Captain O’Neal asked: ‘What food you want n****?’
In another, from September 2012, he asked Captain Patel: ‘U on skype n****?’ In July 2012, Captain O’Neal, who trains other BA pilots, asks: ‘Why you selling the car n****?’
Goodness gracious. I’m not sure whether that’s worse, or this, though:
Further emails reveal how Russell Williams, a BA training captain, sent a pornographic image of a man having sex with a chicken to five other union reps in March 2015 along with the caption: ‘It’s Friday. S*** some birds this weekend.’
Obviously these are just some bad apples (I hope), though in my head I always think of British Airways pilots as being the most professional and proper in the industry, and obviously this doesn’t fit in with that perception.