East Devon MP calls out British Airways on staff cuts as workers protest in Exmouth

East Devon MP Simon Jupp is urging closer scrutiny of airline giant British Airways’ current cuts to its workforce and treatment of its staff.

His call comes in the same week the BA Betrayal campaign group held a protest in Exmouth, declaring the airline was using the pandemic as an ‘excuse’ to implement a ‘fire and rehire’ plan.

The British Airways (BA) boss said the airline was ‘taking every measure possible’ to keep going through the winter. He said the industry was struggling to survive because of low passenger numbers, who were ‘afraid of travelling’ because of the coronavirus.

Mr Jupp on Wednesday (September 16) quizzed BA Chief Executive Alex Cruz, who told MPs the airline industry, post-Covid lockdown, was ‘fundamentally different’.

The East Devon MP was among MPs who heard Mr Cruz defend the airline’s decision to make job and pay cuts.

The BA boss told the Transport Select Committee the airline was battling to survive; operating around 25-30 per cent of its schedule. He said passenger levels last week dropped to 187,000 compared to one million during the same period in 2019.

Mr Jupp said it was right BA’s actions were investigated and held to account.

He said: “British Airways bosses have repeatedly failed to take the opportunity to stop and think about what they are doing and their actions must be subject to further scrutiny.

“I will continue to work with all of the Transport Select Committee to highlight our concerns.”

He added: “British Airways is the nation’s flag carrier, it’s about time they acted as such.”

The BA Betrayal campaign group was in Exmouth on Tuesday (September 15), urging Mr Jupp to join more than 280 MPs who have pledged to review BA’s ‘privileged landing slots’ if the airline fails to end its ‘brutal’ employment changes – firing its workforce and rehiring those that survive on ‘inferior contracts’.

The public heard from campaigners and workers how BA was using the pandemic as an ‘excuse’ to cut costs and jobs.

A spokeswoman for the East Devon campaign group said: “British Airways are using this terrible health pandemic to make drastic and unnecessary permanent cuts.

“BA is a wealthy company that can probably afford to ride out the crisis. Instead they have chosen to take taxpayers money whilst decimating their British workforce.

“It is a disgrace that they are allowed to still carry the British flag.”

BA boss Alex Cruz said he believed the aviation industry faced ‘a long recovery process’ as a consequence of the pandemic.

He said: “People are afraid of travelling … and we are having weekly changes to the quarantine list. We are taking every measure possible to make sure we can actually make it through this winter.

We don’t see a short-term coming-back of our passengers.”

He added: “There is no data to support that this is a temporary effect for the airline situation. Things have changed. The airline industry is fundamentally different.”

Mr Cruz said: “We have lots of data showing this will be a long recovery process during which we will have structural changes to the makeup of our passengers and demand across the globe.”

Union Unite said many thousands of BA workers were being subjected to the most brutal ‘fire and rehire’ strategy.

Sharon Graham, Unite executive officer, said: “British Airways are a national disgrace and actions against them will continue.

“So far, over 280 MPs have added their name to our call for BA’s privileged landing slots to be reviewed and the numbers continue to grow.

“BA’s scorched earth approach will have consequences.”

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