MIAMI – British Airways [BA] has received a considerable amount of criticism regarding its handling of the COVID-19 crisis. Whether it be closing a hub, cutting hundreds of pilots, or most recently embarking on a restructuring initiative that axes 12,000 employees, critics have had a lot of material to use against the flag carrier.

This latest headline comes from the later of those examples. As the airline looks to cut almost a third (28%) of its workforce, the pressure is now being put on Boris Johnson to retaliate by re-evaluating the airline’s right to its takeoff and landing slots.

These slots are crucial to airlines and are individually worth millions.

The move has not only garnered support from the public, but it has also been pushed by over 100 members of parliament.

Photo: Wikimedia

What Does Losing The Slots Mean for BA?

Losing takeoff and landing slots at airports could have long term effects on BA’s ability to recover from the ongoing crisis.

The best example would be London Heathrow (LHR), which is BA’s crown jewel. BA’s reported number of slots held for summer 2020 at LHR is 349, or 51% of all slots there. The second closest airline is Lufthansa with 37 (only 5% of all slots at LHR).

With numbers like these, BA was still looking to drastically expand before the pandemic. As slots are stripped, BA could soon find its self being forced to cut flights it was once able to operate, even if seats can be filled.

BRITISH AIRWAYS A350-1000 DELIVERY 3. Photo: Clément Alloing

In a Royal Tight Spot

It is safe to say that BA runs London Heathrow. The company has taken some controversial actions during this pandemic and shows no intent to stop.

Perhaps the massive protests, opposition from unions, and now the risk of lost slots will cause the airline to re-think its approach before too much damage is done.