Details: British Airways’ “Premium” Gatwick Low Cost Carrier

Details: British Airways’ “Premium” Gatwick Low Cost Carrier

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Over the summer we learned that British Airways planned to launch a low cost carrier based at London Gatwick Airport (LGW). Within weeks it was stated that this wouldn’t happen, as the airline couldn’t get pilots onboard with that concept. That just seemed to be a bargaining technique, because British Airways is once again moving forward with the concept.

British Airways’ “premium” low cost carrier

British Airways is looking to recruit flight attendants for the new Gatwick-based airline, and the recruitment letter contains some interesting information about the airline:

  • The airline will launch operations by March 2022
  • The airline is described as “competing with carriers like Easyjet and Wizz, whilst ensuring we stand out from the crowds through our unique British Airways service”
  • As it’s described, “the new proposed airline would be a full-service premium airline”
  • Flight attendants at the airline will earn basic pay of £15,848 per year, and up to £24,000 per year with bonuses and flight pay
  • On top of that, flight attendants won’t have overnight layovers, but rather will return to Gatwick every night
  • British Airways will continue to operate long haul flights out of Gatwick, so these newly hired flight attendants would exclusively fly short haul on the new subsidiary

It sure sounds to me like from a passenger experience standpoint, this would be almost identical to what was offered at Gatwick before. There will likely still be business class, and British Airways sells food & drinks in economy anyway, so that’s not a point of differentiation.

The only part of this new airline that’s “low cost” is the labor costs.

Expect the new airline to still have business class

British Airways’ tricky Gatwick situation

For some context, British Airways had been trying to decide what to do at Gatwick even since before the pandemic:

  • Both Gatwick and Heathrow are slot restricted, with Heathrow slots being especially expensive and hard to come by
  • With demand having been down during the pandemic, British Airways understandably largely consolidated operations at Heathrow, to be more efficient
  • During the pandemic British Airways operated a skeleton schedule out of Gatwick — the airline operated select long haul flights, but cut its short-haul network altogether
  • While requirements to use slots have been relaxed for the time being, eventually the requirements will be restored, and it’s anyone’s guess when British Airways will get back to pre-coronavirus passenger numbers
  • There had been talk of British Airways pulling out of Gatwick altogether, though understandably British Airways tried to avoid that
British Airways has long struggled with its Gatwick strategy

Bottom line

British Airways is moving forward with launching a low cost carrier at London Gatwick, which could start operations in March 2022. Based on the information we have, it seems that this operation will be very similar to British Airways “mainline” flights. Rather the “low cost” aspect of this comes from staffing costs — flight attendants won’t have any layovers, and will get fairly low pay.

I’m surprised British Airways was able to get labor groups onboard with this. The airline has been known to not act in good faith when negotiating, and one has to wonder if some labor concessions are really the difference between this concept being feasible and not.

What do you make of British Airways’ Gatwick-based low cost carrier?

Conversations (28)
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  1. Alex Guest

    24k is a typical starting salary for a college grad in the UK (we are talking an average school with an average degree). You pay quite little tax on this and if you don’t live in the center of London this is an ok salary. Sure you won’t become rich on this either (or manage to save for the downpayment of a house) but its far away from exploitation.

  2. red_robbo Guest

    Let's just clarify something - £15,848 is quoted as the "basic" starting pay, on top of which should be added extra payments for each and every time they set foot on an aircraft. Nobody will be on only that basic salary, unless they are in the highly unlikely position of being new starters and grounded for some reason.
    Admittedly it is nevertheless a scarily low salary for living in the south of England, but...

    Let's just clarify something - £15,848 is quoted as the "basic" starting pay, on top of which should be added extra payments for each and every time they set foot on an aircraft. Nobody will be on only that basic salary, unless they are in the highly unlikely position of being new starters and grounded for some reason.
    Admittedly it is nevertheless a scarily low salary for living in the south of England, but to all those claiming that it's exploitation, nobody is being forced to apply or accept the job if they don't want it.
    As others have said, there will probably still be a queue of applicants and hundreds, if not thousands, of disappointed hopefuls.

  3. dander Guest

    all these comments about the low salaries, yet BA will mostly likely have scores of applicants for every job. I personally like the younger cabin staff, they actually treat passengers as human and will usually chat if they aren't busy.

  4. Fred Lowe Guest

    The more they pay their workers the less profit they will make. If I’m not mistaken, I think that’s called capitalism…

  5. Andy Guest

    Agree with the other comments: With this salary it is simply not possible to live in London. I understand that the UK has no legal minimum salary, but this is just immoral.

    1. The nice Paul Guest

      What are you talking about? The UK has a national minimum wage — a “legal minimum salary” — and has had for years.

      Whether it’s at a high enough level is a whole different question.

  6. Hobbs Guest

    All BA needs now is a new color scheme, a la ITA.

  7. Eskimo Guest

    BA is being smart about salary. Can't you see this is BA factoring in any unions for salary.
    They get £16k now, form a union and go on strike a year later, then get paid £21k.
    If BA pays them £25k now, they will still form a union and go on strike a year later, then get paid £30k.

    This is a win-win for everyone. Unions for all.
    Don't buy a new video game system with the latest hits. Paying dues to the union instead of games.

  8. David Jeffery Guest

    Why can’t they just use LEVEL for this?

  9. Icarus Guest

    £15k per annum is based on the minimum wage of £8.91 / USD12 per hour. Gatwick is not London, although expensive.

    This is on a par with what EasyJet pay but lower than Ryanair.

    I just read that the West Hollywood City Council voted on a minimum wage of USD17.64 per hour. This is not far off the highest In Luxembourg of USD18.33.

    1. Never In Doubt Guest

      San Francisco’s minimum wage is currently $16.32, and adjusts every July 1 with the CPI.

    2. Michael SEA New Member

      Minimum wage in Seattle will go up to $17.27 on Jan 1 2022. It will continue to be the highest in the nation. It has no exemption for tipped workers.

  10. Endre Guest

    Low cost at the expense of their employees. £15k isn’t much in the UK.

  11. Pierre Platinum

    "Our Unique British Airways Service" is a line worthy of a National Enquirer title such as "Woman Gives Birth to Dog".

  12. Lee Guest

    Seems a bit of a odd combination to have "premium" and "low cost" in the same sentence.
    What is clear is that if there are any concessions on pay it is only the cabin crew and ground crew who will be on low cost salaries.
    Concession and Flight Crew don't go together. The Flight Crew have always looked after themselves, they have no sense of solidarity or thought for the pay of their colleagues in the cabin or on the ground.

  13. Lune New Member

    The only people who *might* be interested in this would be young people who're willing to take a low salary in exchange for the perks of travel. Do it for a few years, see the world, then move on to your real job. But this is all shorthaul with no layovers, which severely dampens that part of the job. The main people who want shorthauls with no layovers, I imagine, are older people who've been...

    The only people who *might* be interested in this would be young people who're willing to take a low salary in exchange for the perks of travel. Do it for a few years, see the world, then move on to your real job. But this is all shorthaul with no layovers, which severely dampens that part of the job. The main people who want shorthauls with no layovers, I imagine, are older people who've been there, done that, and have families they want to come home to every night. Those people are older and aren't looking to live with their parents or slum it with 6 roommates in a dingy flat just for the "glamor" of being a flight attendant.

    1. Never In Doubt Guest

      If you’re returning to Gatwick every night, you’re not “seeing the world”.

    2. Andrew-Stuart New Member

      Nor are you seeing the world if you're travelling to Paris, Amsterdam and Brussels three times a day....but only at the airport for 20 min before turning around and back to Gatwick.....without ever leaving the aircraft!

    3. JB Guest

      Technically, you are "seeing the world", but your only seeing the world and not experiencing it...

      That's how corporate would justify the wording atleast ;)

    4. Lune New Member

      Sorry I wasn't clear, but that's exactly what I meant :-) In general, people might take a low salary in exchange for the perks of seeing the world, but in this case, that perk really isn't there.

  14. Phil Guest

    I suppose some young people will be prepared to work on these conditions; living at home with parents or sharing accommodation with friends / partners. I wonder how these pay rates compare with the remuneration offered by Ryanair, Easyjet, Wizz, etc.

  15. Chris Guest

    Any tourist can open a local newspaper and stroll through a supermarket. In the UK, that will reveal rents and food prices.

    Comparing that information with the £15,000 proposed salary - do YOU support poverty and exploitation?

    1. Niko_jas Guest

      I recently walked past a UK outlet of KFC with a sign in the window offering jobs at £9.50 per hour. So about £19,000 full time annually.
      Who would choose the hassles and stress of a BA low cost outfit for such awful pay, especially having to live close to Gatwick in the most expensive region of the UK!? Once you add in the unpaid hanging around for delays it can barely meet the minimum wage surely? Shame on BA for valuing staff so little.

  16. James Guest

    The pay isn't "fairly" low, it's shockingly low! £15k a year is completely ridiculous, and there's absolutely no way you could possibly live on that in London.

  17. Matt Guest

    I don’t know the cost of living in London but aren’t those wages really low? What is the profile of the people who can work for those wages? Single? Young? Living with parents?

  18. Stewart Guest

    Lipstick on a pig. There's no difference between BA short haul and EasyJet anyway!

  19. Duck Ling Guest

    It's funny how things 360.

    Up until about 12 years ago, the Flight Attendants at LGW were divided into non 'mainline' BA cabin crew that operated the Short Haul flights only, and BA 'mainline' crew that operated the Long Haul flights only ex LGW. BA created a new Low Cost workforce 'Single Fleet LGW' that would operate both the long and shorthaul flights ex LGW and the LGW mainline crew were transferred to LHR mainline...

    It's funny how things 360.

    Up until about 12 years ago, the Flight Attendants at LGW were divided into non 'mainline' BA cabin crew that operated the Short Haul flights only, and BA 'mainline' crew that operated the Long Haul flights only ex LGW. BA created a new Low Cost workforce 'Single Fleet LGW' that would operate both the long and shorthaul flights ex LGW and the LGW mainline crew were transferred to LHR mainline longhaul.

    Now in 2021 we see that what WAS the new low cost Single Fleet LGW will be the more 'expensive' fleet and the short haul flights will be operated by newer, cheaper low cost flight attendants.

    Full cycle.

    1. Malcolm Guest

      Immoral salaries. It’s not possible to live on that sort of salary.

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Lune New Member

The only people who *might* be interested in this would be young people who're willing to take a low salary in exchange for the perks of travel. Do it for a few years, see the world, then move on to your real job. But this is all shorthaul with no layovers, which severely dampens that part of the job. The main people who want shorthauls with no layovers, I imagine, are older people who've been there, done that, and have families they want to come home to every night. Those people are older and aren't looking to live with their parents or slum it with 6 roommates in a dingy flat just for the "glamor" of being a flight attendant.

3
David Jeffery Guest

Why can’t they just use LEVEL for this?

2
Pierre Platinum

"Our Unique British Airways Service" is a line worthy of a National Enquirer title such as "Woman Gives Birth to Dog".

2
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