MIAMI – Following BALPA union members agreeing to support the development of a British Airways (BA) affiliate operations from Gatwick Airport (LGW), the British Airlines Pilots Association (Balpa), which represents over 16,000 UK pilots, has signed a new deal with British Airways (BA). 

“Balpa and British Airways have reached a crucial new agreement encompassing revised pay and working hours for British Airways pilots flying short-haul flights at Gatwick,” said Martin Chalk, the union’s acting general secretary. “In terms of the future of short-haul operations at Gatwick, this deal is now BA’s preferred choice.”

Before resuming operations, BA will need to engage with other parties. “After this encouraging decision, we will continue conversations with our employees, trade unions, suppliers, and other stakeholders, and if we can agree on a path ahead with all parties, we hope to start operations next summer,” said a BA representative. 

City A.M reported that Balpa’s decision is the second in less than a month, following the union’s rejection of British Airways’ proposal to compete with low-cost carriers such as Easyjet and Ryanair. Members of the union originally justified their actions by claiming that they were unable to negotiate an acceptable deal with the carrier.

“Balpa remains available to further dialogue with British Airways to settle our members’ concerns about the LGW short-haul proposal or any other aspect of the business,” Chalk said at the time. 

British Airways G-XLEK Airbus A380-800. Photo: Johann Heske/Airways

The Fate of Short-haul Operations at Gatwick


Following the results of the referendum, the airline opted to cancel most of its Gatwick operations, which had been grounded since March 2020 due to COVID-19. 

“After several years of losing finances on European air travel from the airport, we were clear that coming out of the pandemic, we needed a plan to make Gatwick profitable and competitive,” a BA spokesperson said.

“With regret, we are suspending our short-haul operations at Gatwick, with the exception of a limited number of national routes linking to our long-haul operation, and we will look for alternate uses for the London Gatwick short-haul slots.” 

In late September, the union decided to return to the negotiation table, and on October 4th, it presented its members with an improved plan. On the 4th of October, a BA representative remarked, “While we have been actively seeking alternative uses for our slots, BALPA urged us to continue discussions last week.”

“These discussions were productive, addressed significant concerns, and resulted in the necessary efficiencies. Balpa is currently putting up a new proposal to its members.” 

British Airlines declined to comment on the specifics of the original and modified proposals, according to cityam.com.


Featured image: British Airways Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner G-ZBJF – Photo: Roberto Leiro/Airways