More British Airways cuts. This time people. Again.

I hesitate to write another story about British Airways, but as a lot of my readers are based in the UK, or credit their frequent flier miles to the Executive Club, I felt it was warranted.

Today’s news is a further costing cutting measure, that will diminish the already poor customer experience.

For many, many years, British Airways have had a cabin crew base in Sao Paulo, Brazil.  These crew live there and work the flight to London and back, providing well needed language skills for lots of Brazilian customers on the flight.

However, today it was announced that British Airways are closing their cabin crew base there, and all staff will be made redundant.

A few months ago, they did exactly the same with the cabin crew base in Buenos Aires.  The last flight with crew based there, was but a few weeks ago.

Further, British Airways are in consultation with the unions representing the ground crew in the US, to sack all of them as well, and move them over to outsourced handling agents.

This means that all of the incredible staff at places like San Francisco and JFK will be lowest common denominator SwissPort or Menzies drones, who really don’t care about customer service or getting people to where they need to go.

Over the years, I’ve had some fantastic service from the teams at the US airports.

  • Special Services at SFO moved me from the 284 to the 286 as the “early” flight was running so late the 286 left first
  • The team at JFK proactively moved me to an earlier departure, as the 182 was running two hours late
  • The BA team at LAX liaised with AA to help me and six friends through a 25 minute connection from T6 to T4

That’s just a few instances that I can think of that have recently come to mind.

If that wasn’t bad enough, there are rumours that Steve Clark, their Executive Vice President in the US has now been sacked by the airline.

This is due to him allegedly misappropriating $19m worth of funds during dealings with a ground handling agent, GSI.  Apparently British Airways has advised staff that he doesn’t work for them any more.

Next for the chopping block are the UK based call centres in Manchester and Newcastle.  They’re due to be outsourced to Capita.

The Sunday Times also recently ran a long story about all of the negative changes that are happening at the airline, entitled ‘ABBA – Anyone But British Airways’.  This came only a day after a LinkedIn article that went viral, highlighting a lot of the same issues with cost-cutting.

I’ve written about this previously here at the Ginger Travel Guru too.

Add to that:

  • Their “Mixed Fleet” cabin crew are on strike.  Again.
  • British Airways are spending millions on leasing Qatar Airways aircraft to cover for the strike, ironically if reports are to be believed, providing a far better service.

All in all, I simply don’t get it.  Alex Cruz professes to be investing in the premium experience, investing in the product to the tune of £400m.

However they’re sacking staff; cutting their single best asset to deliver what’s left of the product and paper over the cracks.  The outsourcing they have embarked upon appears to have now been (and I stress allegedly) at senior manager’s direct gain.

It’s all so sad and deeply unnecessary.  Those BA crew either in Sao Paulo, Mixed Fleet currently on strike, the awesome ground staff in the US, and the UK call centres from a personal perspective, you make flying the airline awesome.  Please don’t give up.

To the management, please listen to passengers.  Work on delivering the best customer experience with the best staff that you have.  Minimum wage, third party drones can’t deliver a premium experience and will end up costing you more in the long run.

Will there actually be anyone left?

18 comments

  1. Once they’ve finished with the strikes, they are threatening to close the pension scheme. This will leave then open to more action by already very unhappy staff.
    Morale at BA is absolutely rock bottom in just about every department, except management who are just filling their own pockets with bonuses gained from cuts and huge profits.
    They just can’t see that it’s their frontline staff that actually keep things running and passengers flying with them.

  2. All this and the flights are still bursting at the seams. Customers continue to complain but it’s having absolutely no effect on bookings.

  3. It’s having no effect on bookings because BA have a monopoly on flights at Heathrow – yes there is competition, but certain routes there is no option but to fly BA if you want to go direct. They maybe full but doesn’t mean they’re full with happy passenger.

  4. I am retired BA staff. Days gone by when we offered the best in customer service are now long gone. It’s known that if you look after your staff they will in turn do their utmost to perform well for the bosses and furthermore for the customers. Like all companies they need to save money but I’m afraid the two do not mix. I wish my colleagues who are still there all the very best for their futures.

  5. It hurts to see how the company has chanhed, and they are saying they have to cut cost but you see the flights chock-a-block you ask are they all mileage tickets oh no they are not, but evidence is in the alleged Steve Clark’s story. How sad. My how things have changed.

  6. I object to the writers rude comments in reference to Swissport as being the lowest common denominator and not caring about customer service. You could not be more wrong and in fact Swissport in particular provides an excellent customer service experience that many carriers cannot (which is one of the reasons why they outsource companies like Swissport in the first place). If you’re going to place a label like that on any company, back it up with examples or personal experience. No one is perfect and BA is far from being a great CS experience, but one persons experience does not justify you judging the entirety of a company.

    1. The outsourced ground handling companies are great for basic tasks, but I’m sorry, for anything more complex it’s a matter of *cough* computer says no. As a Gold Guest List traveller, I’ve never had any recognition, support or anyone going over and above the basics, probably because it’s not in the contract. However from Special Services, whether it be BA (or more often than not AA ground staff), I’ve had personal welcomes, car transfers between terminals, pre-boards, flights proactively changed due to delays, you name it. All that stuff will die because it costs money to deliver and doesn’t fit in the outsourced model.

    2. Swissport the worst company I have ever worked for. At both levels. Run by accountants and disregard for safety or staff welfare. Personally believe they should be banned from operating in the U.K. Or Ireland. Shower of shite

  7. You should do more research… BA Engineering Departments worldwide are also being outsourced as well. That’s how sad and scary the cost cutting has become. Many great engineers have had to switch to 3rd party handlers for employment, forced retirement, or jump to other carriers in fear that your station will be closing/outsourced because you’re considered a “low volume station”

  8. They won’t listen, they never have. BA made me redundant in 2005. Once they announce something they stick by it, the decision has already been discussed extensively behind closed doors. I feel sorry for those who have moved from other regions where BA have shut up shop, just to keep the job with BA. Many will have the option to join cabin crew under the new terms, but for many, that won’t be suitable.

  9. The rot doesn’t just apply abroad. Of the 160(?) Team Leaders at Heathrow running various departments, most coming through the ranks and having therefore been involved in the more basic tasks before being elevated ( in a tough promotion contest ) probably about 60 will just go. They’ve not ben told how those who will go will be chosen, or when, or how. Voluntary redundancy or what? Arrivals Customer Services who take the stick from passengers whose bags have gone astray or been damaged and who have historically had a great recovery record have been told their service is being outsourced. Other essential operation backup units are being hived off also.
    The morale of Heathrow staff is rock bottom, with those who lived end breathed BA actually despising those who run the company. This added to the fact that few are now proud of what they little have been forced to offer their customers.
    Nothing will stop the slide into a 5th rate airline and if you think I find this easy to write you should know that I have been proud to be associated with what really was ‘The World’s Favourite’ but today’s version is a shadow of its former self.
    The current management is determined to compete in only one sphere – price. Quality has almost disappeared and unless
    the shareholders stand up to Alex Cruz and his cohorts soon, there will be absolutely nothing left!

  10. Also an ex BA employee and a very proud one at the time. The North American call center was in Toronto and closed in 2005 and outsourced to a company in Jacksonville Florida. If I remember correctly our office in Toronto provided service in approx. 20 different languages. I worked as a passenger service agent at Toronto airport and what an amazing group of people to work with. Because the call center staff and airport staff were in the same union, senior res agents were able to bump people at the airport. Working call center and working front line airport are 2 very different beasts. Many of the call center staff who bumped out the airport staff left after a few months because it was not their *cup of tea*, those of us that were bumped were told that we could not get our jobs back because once you have left BA and accepted a package ( which was very minimal ) we couldn’t be hired by BA again…….. where is the sense in that way of thinking? I was very offended at the time but now understand that had I been *allowed* to stay …… things would be a lot different now and I probably wouldn’t be as proud of a BA employee as I was in the day !

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