British Airways 777 Pilots May Be Headed To Qatar Airways This Winter

British Airways 777 Pilots May Be Headed To Qatar Airways This Winter

20

There’s a unique opportunity for British Airways pilots this winter…

British Airways 777 pilots wanted in Doha

A memo has gone out to British Airways pilots, asking if there would be interest in a secondment opportunity this winter:

  • Qatar Airways is looking for British Airways Boeing 777 pilots to work for the Doha-based airline for the winter 2021/2022 season
  • Up to 40 pilots are wanted for this opportunity, split evenly between captains and first officers
  • This opportunity is limited to six months, and an extension beyond that would be based on the mutual agreement of all parties
  • Training would commence in October and November, and pilots would start flying with Qatar Airways shortly after that
  • Pilots who take advantage of this would be based in Doha for the duration of the agreement, and would remain employed and paid by British Airways, though they’d be paid based on the amount of flying they do (which would presumably be more at Qatar Airways than British Airways)
  • The memo acknowledges that “there are significant complexities that would surround any opportunities”
British Airways 777 pilots could be headed to Doha

What exactly is going on here?

For context, keep in mind that Qatar Airways owns a 25% stake in IAG, which is the parent company of British Airways, so the airlines have a connection. This wouldn’t be the first time the two airlines have worked together in this way — back in 2017 when British Airways was having labor issues, Qatar Airways based eight Airbus A320s in London, so that they could be wet leased to British Airways.

Clearly the desire for this latest agreement reflects that:

  • Qatar Airways needs more pilots, which makes sense when you consider how much the carrier’s network has grown during the pandemic, and also that the company’s workforce has been cut back significantly
  • British Airways will have excess pilots this winter, so this is an opportunity to keep pilots flying

Historically British Airways’ biggest Boeing 777 market has been across the Atlantic. Demand for that is generally quite a bit weaker in winter, but then again, the United States will finally be lifting travel restrictions against vaccinated travelers as of November, so that should lead to some additional demand.

You don’t see opportunities like this all that often:

  • Something like this would only work for airlines that trust one another and have aligned interests (in this case Qatar Airways’ ownership stake in British Airways covers that)
  • Often demand patterns for pilots around the world are similar, so one airline doesn’t typically have excess pilots, while another doesn’t have enough
  • Even if a pilot is rated on a particular plane, there’s still significant training involved, and that can be costly and time consuming

That being said, it seems like this is kind of a sweet spot situation for both airlines. I’ll be curious to see if a sufficient number of British Airways pilots express interest in this. I suspect this will amount to a pay increase for the pilots who choose this opportunity. But still, packing up your life and moving thousands of miles away is no small commitment. I imagine anyone who takes advantage of this will be someone who appreciates an adventure, and someone who likes warm weather, since Doha does have better weather in winter than London (at least if you ask me). 😉

If you fly a Qatar Airways Boeing 777 this winter and you hear the captain announce “welcome aboard Brit… I mean, Qatar Airways,” now you know why.

Qatar Airways owns a stake in British Airways, which explains this deal

Bottom line

British Airways and Qatar Airways are working together on a unique opportunity for pilots this winter. Up to 40 British Airways Boeing 777 pilots could be headed to Doha to fly Qatar Airways Boeing 777s. This reflects that British Airways has excess pilots, while Qatar Airways clearly doesn’t have enough.

It’ll be interesting to see if enough pilots express interest in this for it to make sense.

If you were a British Airways 777 pilot, would you take part in this job swap?

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  1. QR PILOT

    With the recent COVID outbreak a lots of airline had to find a way to survive.
    Some put their crew on unpaid leave, some had to made redundancy, some went bankrupt.
    Some on the other hand took COVID as a chance/an excuse to abuse their employees and the regulations.
    Very few took it as far as Qatar Airways.
    I don't want repeat what was said already (on a thread that, for...

    With the recent COVID outbreak a lots of airline had to find a way to survive.
    Some put their crew on unpaid leave, some had to made redundancy, some went bankrupt.
    Some on the other hand took COVID as a chance/an excuse to abuse their employees and the regulations.
    Very few took it as far as Qatar Airways.
    I don't want repeat what was said already (on a thread that, for some reason, is now closed) about the salary, the cuts, the LOL etc…

    There is something that is, for me, a much bigger concern with QR, it's the level of crew fatigue.
    Crew are exhausted. During the pandemic the fatigue department, aware of the issue, published a 'fatigue survey'. 93% of the pilots reported that they were scared to write a fatigue report. 80% of the pilots reported that rostering and stress had an adverse effect on fatigue, 60% that they had trouble sleeping. It was noted by the medical department that hotel lock-down in some destinations has an adverse effect on mental heath and well-being and contribute to increased fatigue.
    This was almost a year ago... NOTHING was done to address those issues. It has actually gotten worse. Hours have never decreased. When some destinations started to open, QR decided to enforce hotel lock-down for all of their crew, vaccinated or not, on all destinations, regardless of local regulations.
    When responsible airlines decided to cancel flights (and damage their image) because they didn't have the crew, Qatar decided to stretch their crew to the 'legal' maximum. And when this was not enough, they changed the already very permissive regulations.
    We have reached "unprecedented" level of fatigue, especially on the 777 and now the 350, to a point I have huge doubts on the safety of operations.

    Let me explain.
    - First of all Qatar Airways has always been using factoring. When you fly heavy crew, rest time doesn't count towards block time and therefore limitations. On a 16h flight you will log only 8h, except the PIC who will log 16h.
    - But this wasn't enough. When other airlines were going to china with a crew change in BKK, ICN or any airport on the way, QR decided to operate round trip to China. Those trips busted all imaginable limitations. But no problem, it was made 'legal' by QCAA. They introduced 'China ULR', 23h duty with 4 crews. Of course, factoring was applied to those flights, and such a duty will count only for 6h30-7h00 block hours. Yes, 23h FDP will count as little as 6h30 regarding limitations.
    - But this wasn't enough! On a recent ACN "crew B" (the relief crew, not at the controls for takeoff and landing) has to deduct an extra 1h30 from the block time, and therefore the limitations. If you are not the operating crew, you have to be in the flight deck for taxi, takeoff, initial climb and descent. But this does not count towards limitations.
    B crew on a 14h flight to SEA will count only as 5h30 towards limitations.
    - But this was not enough! All leave got cancelled. Yes cancelled, people flew like hell and didn't get leave. HR ****** up completely, we don't have pilots, we know fatigue is an issue according to the survey, what to do ??? Just cancel the leave of the remaining flight crew of course !!!! Don't even allow them to carry anything forward to the next year. We will throw those dogs a bone and make them believe that we are doing them a favor! This is by the way completely illegal even in Qatar. But not an issue for QR. They are not even able to respect the regulations of their own country... What a disgrace.
    - But this was not enough! There used to be a limitations on consecutive disruptive (night) duties. This was removed and you can now fly 6 nights in a row with 12h rest in between and finish with a 14h trip to the east, get your EERP there, rinse and repeat.
    - But this was not enough! In every airline block time is calculated from parking brake release to engine shutdown. Not in QR, it's now from the time the aircraft reach 2 knots to 10 seconds before parking brake. An other few minutes saved on every flight.
    - But this wasn't enough! Previously in QR, like in any airline, you had the possibility to report fatigue for a flight. Reporting fatigue would get you out of the roster for 48h. This was too much good for QR. Now when you call fatigue, despite all the rumors and the fear of getting retribution, you'll be given a whooping 12h rest including a local night. Then you’ll be considered fit for duty.
    - But this was not enough! Before the PIC of a flight didn’t need to apply factoring. This was changed on a recent ACN. Now on 4 men crew the PIC also has to deduct the rest time from the block. Who is ‘in command’ when he is resting ??
    - But this was not enough! We used to have a block of 4 days off (GOFF). Those are long gone. You will get the absolute minimum rest between each duty.

    All those tricks put together allow Qatar Airways to disregard any EASA hours limitations.
    On a 32h flight DOH - LAX - DOH, you will be logging 14h30 towards the limitations. 17H30 will just disappear. Fastest flight ever if you look at our logbooks. If they assign you as crew B on each leg (this happen when you mix cargo and pax) you will log 13h, 19h will just disappear.
    The 100 hours of flight time in any consecutive 28 days, the 900 hours of flight time in any calendar year, the 1000 hours of flight time in 12 Consecutive Months, all of those are not an issue anymore. Your 130h block a month will be counted as 85h, your 1100h block in a calendar year will be counted as 750h, your 1400h in any 12 consecutive month will be counted as 950h.

    To cover all their wrong doing, QR introduced an electronic logbook. We are not supposed to have our logbook. The company will kindly provide everything and will make all calculations for us. We just have to print those pages and voila! Convenient, isn't it.

    I have been operating like that for the past 18 months. I am now exhausted. I have very often trouble sleeping at night and I regularly wake up in the middle of my rest. I barely spend time with my wife and my kids. I am filing fatigue reports on a regular basis. I even had to call fatigue a few times, and 12h is not enough. I am now calling sick when I need to rest. Food poisoning is now how I am getting rest.
    How about that for mental heath and well-being. But don't worry, instead of spending money on keeping their crew and reducing fatigue, they are spending money in yoga courses, panels to explain you what is fatigue (thank you, I know now !), and sponsoring. So if I am exhausted, locked alone in a room for a 2 weeks cargo trip, not an issue. I can read their pamphlet while doing yoga and watching football !! All good, no reason to jump through the windows ! And if I have a heart attack, my bad, I had a pamphlet on nutrition and sleep hygiene, I should have read that more carefully !
    With all the factoring and deductions over the past 12 consecutive months I have roughly 960 QR 'logbook hours'; the one that counts towards limitations. When you count in real block hours that's more than 1450h, 45% more than real EASA limitations.
    Would I be flying with a normal EASA airline, I would have been on leave for 4 months now.

    I don't understand how QR is allowed to operate over European, US or Australian air space with dead tired pilots, pilots that would be long grounded in those countries.
    This is very common among 777 FO and will shortly be the case for all 350/330 and 777 pilots.
    Cabin crew are collapsing and having heart attack on a regular basis now (they didn't read the pamphlet !!). Their work is more physical than the FD, and they are getting less in-flight rest. On top of that CC management is brutal and discourage any complain or report.
    Add to this the level of frustration and resent toward the company and I believe you have the perfect recipe for a disaster.

    I can't resign, because I am the only one providing for family of 4, buy whenever I can, I am actively looking for a new job, anything else, anywhere else.

    And now Europe wants to give access to more slots to QR?
    To all the European pilots, Qatar Airways may become shortly a part of open sky, don't let it happen ! There has been a lots of discussion about the unfair competition that this will create.
    None of those mentioned the crews and fatigue. Not only QR has access to government resources, cheap fuel, cheap workforce, cheap (and now extremely stretched) maintenance, but they need 30% less crew than any European or US airline to operate. When your airline is cancelling a flight, QR is pushing is illegally pushing their crew and taking your market. They have little to no concern for the safety of their operations, they just look for expansion at all cost.
    Any mistake will be the pilot fault. The guy will be terminated, the report buried in the sand and a new ACN will be issued. Problem solved.
    If they become part of open sky, there's going to be a lots of challenges for European pilots and cabin crew. Airlines that actually care for their employees, or apply standard EASA regulations, will not stand a chance against Qatar Airways.
    I can't understand how unions and EASA regulators can let this happen. I don't understand how they can enforce regulations to European airlines but not to foreign airlines at the cost of safety. Is it really just to sell some more Airbus (maybe the 'crac' problem that only Qatar Airways encounters starts to make sense), or did some people got some ‘backsheesh’
    Same goes for US crews and airlines, but at least they were clever enough not to let them be part of their open sky.

  2. simon

    Nice to see a different part of the world for those 40 pilots ...

  3. Tom

    Might be worth a look:

    https://www.pprune.org/middle-east/642189-joining-qatar-airways-after-covid.html

  4. Andy R

    I'm a BA pilot. Hell will freeze over first.

  5. Morgan

    Would they be provided with housing?

  6. Tim Steeds

    We did a similar thing in the 1980’s when BA “lent” Lufthansa 30 B737 co-pilots on an 18month secondment. I was one of those that participated and had a great time. I suspect any 777 pilots who go will benefit both financially and learn a lot of new skills and friends at the same time.

  7. Diugl look as s

    Qatar Airways gif new a350z.

  8. Auspointer

    Hey Ben, think you have a typo… should be “welcome aboard…” rather than “welcome about…”

  9. Mikey Fly

    As a captain of 777 aircraft, I have already received information on this but the Union has already made comments about this and feel BA will have to to discuss with them regarding work loads, hours, routes and base. There will be a lot of red tape, i feel

  10. Massimo Ferrini

    what is Qatar does not reach the number of pilots they need...why they do not open to pilots made redundant by Emirates...for example...and have not been called back...

  11. Jason Cahoney

    You forgot to mention the fact that Qatar Airways made lots of pilots redundant. They haven't been called back yet.

    1. KJ

      A great opportunity for a change of scenery,but will BALPA really make waves,as this type of secondment is certainly not setting a precedent,in the aviation world. I am wondering ,like some earlier posters,why they won't rehire the pilots they let go of?For most i'm sure 2-3 sim sessions will suffice to pass the recurrency checkride.Or is it a case of not wanting to spend on those kind of resources, for a short term project.Since BA...

      A great opportunity for a change of scenery,but will BALPA really make waves,as this type of secondment is certainly not setting a precedent,in the aviation world. I am wondering ,like some earlier posters,why they won't rehire the pilots they let go of?For most i'm sure 2-3 sim sessions will suffice to pass the recurrency checkride.Or is it a case of not wanting to spend on those kind of resources, for a short term project.Since BA have used Qatar pilot's before,i'm guessing their SOP'S must be fairly similar.Intruiging.

      As they say" it'll all come out in the wash!"

  12. Devan

    British Airways pilots who choose this offer:

    “Tell them to bring me my money!”

    I love this opportunity, I think it’s great!

  13. John T

    I think its a great offer!

  14. Sam

    Setting family concerns aside...
    Fly from warm sunny DOH or another dreary cold wet winter in London...
    and more pay...

    Hello Doha!

  15. Sean M.

    BALPA and Qatar Airways are unlikely to see eye-to-eye on most of the work rules that apply in Qatar (yes, even the operational ones). This will end in tears.

    1. mikey Fly

      I agree BALPA are already asking for details and I feel they will ask pilots to hold off for the time being. There will be a lot of red tape Unions are known for going through everything.

    2. Eskimo

      Anyone thinks this is a treacherous plan of Akbar Al Baker to screw around with BA and BALPA.

      I'm pretty sure redundant 777 pilots are looking for jobs everywhere.

    3. Kiwi

      Or balpa runs the risk of having 777 pilots furloughed this winter….

  16. Chris

    As the max time is 6 months, I wouldn't call this "packing up your life". I know many people who work abroad for that amount of time, or longer.

Featured Comments Load all 20 comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

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QR PILOT

With the recent COVID outbreak a lots of airline had to find a way to survive. Some put their crew on unpaid leave, some had to made redundancy, some went bankrupt. Some on the other hand took COVID as a chance/an excuse to abuse their employees and the regulations. Very few took it as far as Qatar Airways. I don't want repeat what was said already (on a thread that, for some reason, is now closed) about the salary, the cuts, the LOL etc… There is something that is, for me, a much bigger concern with QR, it's the level of crew fatigue. Crew are exhausted. During the pandemic the fatigue department, aware of the issue, published a 'fatigue survey'. 93% of the pilots reported that they were scared to write a fatigue report. 80% of the pilots reported that rostering and stress had an adverse effect on fatigue, 60% that they had trouble sleeping. It was noted by the medical department that hotel lock-down in some destinations has an adverse effect on mental heath and well-being and contribute to increased fatigue. This was almost a year ago... NOTHING was done to address those issues. It has actually gotten worse. Hours have never decreased. When some destinations started to open, QR decided to enforce hotel lock-down for all of their crew, vaccinated or not, on all destinations, regardless of local regulations. When responsible airlines decided to cancel flights (and damage their image) because they didn't have the crew, Qatar decided to stretch their crew to the 'legal' maximum. And when this was not enough, they changed the already very permissive regulations. We have reached "unprecedented" level of fatigue, especially on the 777 and now the 350, to a point I have huge doubts on the safety of operations. Let me explain. - First of all Qatar Airways has always been using factoring. When you fly heavy crew, rest time doesn't count towards block time and therefore limitations. On a 16h flight you will log only 8h, except the PIC who will log 16h. - But this wasn't enough. When other airlines were going to china with a crew change in BKK, ICN or any airport on the way, QR decided to operate round trip to China. Those trips busted all imaginable limitations. But no problem, it was made 'legal' by QCAA. They introduced 'China ULR', 23h duty with 4 crews. Of course, factoring was applied to those flights, and such a duty will count only for 6h30-7h00 block hours. Yes, 23h FDP will count as little as 6h30 regarding limitations. - But this wasn't enough! On a recent ACN "crew B" (the relief crew, not at the controls for takeoff and landing) has to deduct an extra 1h30 from the block time, and therefore the limitations. If you are not the operating crew, you have to be in the flight deck for taxi, takeoff, initial climb and descent. But this does not count towards limitations. B crew on a 14h flight to SEA will count only as 5h30 towards limitations. - But this was not enough! All leave got cancelled. Yes cancelled, people flew like hell and didn't get leave. HR ****** up completely, we don't have pilots, we know fatigue is an issue according to the survey, what to do ??? Just cancel the leave of the remaining flight crew of course !!!! Don't even allow them to carry anything forward to the next year. We will throw those dogs a bone and make them believe that we are doing them a favor! This is by the way completely illegal even in Qatar. But not an issue for QR. They are not even able to respect the regulations of their own country... What a disgrace. - But this was not enough! There used to be a limitations on consecutive disruptive (night) duties. This was removed and you can now fly 6 nights in a row with 12h rest in between and finish with a 14h trip to the east, get your EERP there, rinse and repeat. - But this was not enough! In every airline block time is calculated from parking brake release to engine shutdown. Not in QR, it's now from the time the aircraft reach 2 knots to 10 seconds before parking brake. An other few minutes saved on every flight. - But this wasn't enough! Previously in QR, like in any airline, you had the possibility to report fatigue for a flight. Reporting fatigue would get you out of the roster for 48h. This was too much good for QR. Now when you call fatigue, despite all the rumors and the fear of getting retribution, you'll be given a whooping 12h rest including a local night. Then you’ll be considered fit for duty. - But this was not enough! Before the PIC of a flight didn’t need to apply factoring. This was changed on a recent ACN. Now on 4 men crew the PIC also has to deduct the rest time from the block. Who is ‘in command’ when he is resting ?? - But this was not enough! We used to have a block of 4 days off (GOFF). Those are long gone. You will get the absolute minimum rest between each duty. All those tricks put together allow Qatar Airways to disregard any EASA hours limitations. On a 32h flight DOH - LAX - DOH, you will be logging 14h30 towards the limitations. 17H30 will just disappear. Fastest flight ever if you look at our logbooks. If they assign you as crew B on each leg (this happen when you mix cargo and pax) you will log 13h, 19h will just disappear. The 100 hours of flight time in any consecutive 28 days, the 900 hours of flight time in any calendar year, the 1000 hours of flight time in 12 Consecutive Months, all of those are not an issue anymore. Your 130h block a month will be counted as 85h, your 1100h block in a calendar year will be counted as 750h, your 1400h in any 12 consecutive month will be counted as 950h. To cover all their wrong doing, QR introduced an electronic logbook. We are not supposed to have our logbook. The company will kindly provide everything and will make all calculations for us. We just have to print those pages and voila! Convenient, isn't it. I have been operating like that for the past 18 months. I am now exhausted. I have very often trouble sleeping at night and I regularly wake up in the middle of my rest. I barely spend time with my wife and my kids. I am filing fatigue reports on a regular basis. I even had to call fatigue a few times, and 12h is not enough. I am now calling sick when I need to rest. Food poisoning is now how I am getting rest. How about that for mental heath and well-being. But don't worry, instead of spending money on keeping their crew and reducing fatigue, they are spending money in yoga courses, panels to explain you what is fatigue (thank you, I know now !), and sponsoring. So if I am exhausted, locked alone in a room for a 2 weeks cargo trip, not an issue. I can read their pamphlet while doing yoga and watching football !! All good, no reason to jump through the windows ! And if I have a heart attack, my bad, I had a pamphlet on nutrition and sleep hygiene, I should have read that more carefully ! With all the factoring and deductions over the past 12 consecutive months I have roughly 960 QR 'logbook hours'; the one that counts towards limitations. When you count in real block hours that's more than 1450h, 45% more than real EASA limitations. Would I be flying with a normal EASA airline, I would have been on leave for 4 months now. I don't understand how QR is allowed to operate over European, US or Australian air space with dead tired pilots, pilots that would be long grounded in those countries. This is very common among 777 FO and will shortly be the case for all 350/330 and 777 pilots. Cabin crew are collapsing and having heart attack on a regular basis now (they didn't read the pamphlet !!). Their work is more physical than the FD, and they are getting less in-flight rest. On top of that CC management is brutal and discourage any complain or report. Add to this the level of frustration and resent toward the company and I believe you have the perfect recipe for a disaster. I can't resign, because I am the only one providing for family of 4, buy whenever I can, I am actively looking for a new job, anything else, anywhere else. And now Europe wants to give access to more slots to QR? To all the European pilots, Qatar Airways may become shortly a part of open sky, don't let it happen ! There has been a lots of discussion about the unfair competition that this will create. None of those mentioned the crews and fatigue. Not only QR has access to government resources, cheap fuel, cheap workforce, cheap (and now extremely stretched) maintenance, but they need 30% less crew than any European or US airline to operate. When your airline is cancelling a flight, QR is pushing is illegally pushing their crew and taking your market. They have little to no concern for the safety of their operations, they just look for expansion at all cost. Any mistake will be the pilot fault. The guy will be terminated, the report buried in the sand and a new ACN will be issued. Problem solved. If they become part of open sky, there's going to be a lots of challenges for European pilots and cabin crew. Airlines that actually care for their employees, or apply standard EASA regulations, will not stand a chance against Qatar Airways. I can't understand how unions and EASA regulators can let this happen. I don't understand how they can enforce regulations to European airlines but not to foreign airlines at the cost of safety. Is it really just to sell some more Airbus (maybe the 'crac' problem that only Qatar Airways encounters starts to make sense), or did some people got some ‘backsheesh’ Same goes for US crews and airlines, but at least they were clever enough not to let them be part of their open sky.

Sean M.

BALPA and Qatar Airways are unlikely to see eye-to-eye on most of the work rules that apply in Qatar (yes, even the operational ones). This will end in tears.

simon

Nice to see a different part of the world for those 40 pilots ...

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