Croydon council leader Tony Newman’s flawed and failing business strategy for the borough was dealt another hammer blow yesterday when a leaked internal memo revealed that British Airways is considering quitting Gatwick Airport.
Newman’s Labour council has wedded itself to Gatwick, signing up to the Coast to Capital initiative and backing the airport’s expansion plans because of the prospect of extra jobs for Croydon.
That latter appears to be in tatters this morning with British Airways’ business on its knees because of the coronavirus shutdown. A leaked BA memo, issued after the airline laid off 12,000 staff on Tuesday, has revealed that when the lockdown is lifted, it is considering consolidating what remains of its operations at Heathrow.
Such a move would leave Gatwick, the country’s second-busiest airport, with a massive hole to fill in its own business, and it would appear to leave its own controversial runway expansion plans dead in the water.
BA plans to lay off almost 4 in 5 crew managers at Gatwick and 60 per cent of other cabin crew. The jobs of just over 400 ground staff will be outsourced to the airport and its contractors, according to reports.
In emails to staff and unions, managers at BA warned that “there is no certainty as to when services can return” to London City or Gatwick airports, and that they had “not ruled out suspending the remainder of our Heathrow operation”.
BA will be seeking to lay off 1,130 pilots, about one-quarter of its current pilot staff.
The airline has also told pilots that they will need to sign new contracts on reduced terms, and that other staff will also be forced to accept reduced pay rates and working conditions.
In a memo to staff, Alex Cruz, the BA chief executive, said: “There is no ‘normal’ any longer.
“We do not know when countries will reopen their borders or when the lockdowns will lift, and so we have to reimagine and reshape our airline and create a new future for our people, our customers and the destinations we serve.”
Which appears to leave little left for Newman’s vision for Croydon.
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Croydon loses but who wins?
The Tory government and Tory councillors in the leafy districts of the South East
The mythical 300k new homes has been their great embarrassment and it has been made worse with voters rejecting the latter in droves because the former has been making them patsies for finding the numbers in their own constituencies. I watched England go out of the World Cup with a Surrey District Tory Councillor who has since been voted out. How unlucky can you get?
But the decline at Gatwick may well produce more brownfield housing land in the South East than anything since the Blitz. To give the Tories a national housing success. A miracle!
Damage limitation is now essential. We must push for a Gatwick City in a Croydon-Brighton Axis oozing quality construction. No more rabbit hutches to file the under-homed away.
The government should step in and stop this, not solely because of the massive effect on local employment in our area and Surrey and Sussex, which in the short term at least, will suffer from the reduction in flights from Easy Jet and the other airlines.
The other reason is the pressure for another runway at Heathrow, which will wipe out a village, and add more traffic to the already massively congested M 25 in the zone between the A3 , M3, M4 and M 40. If there is a reduction in air traffic, the need for another Gatwick runway goes too.
The logic is– let BA keep its operations at both Heathrow and Gatwick. Reduce the pressure on Heathrow. Stop the justification for new runways. Stop the mad expansion of aeroplane travel.
By the way, a reduction in air travel will improve air quality for the nearby residents of South West Horley, where the smell of burnt kerosene fills the air when the wind blows (as it does generally) from the SW, taking the stench from the airport immediately over Horley.
It’s a cruel thing, this dependence of a whole area’s employment on an airport. Some suffer pollution, while others benefit.
My hope is that better planes with cleaner engines will continue to be developed, but whether the airlines will need – or be able to afford — to buy any new planes for a long time, is doubtful.
It’s a fragile thing, this World, its environment, people, and economy(ies).
Your hope is that better planes with cleaner engines will continue to be developed. Have a word with Tony Newman. He knows all about electric planes (no, not the kind you’d get at B&Q to sand your floors and doors).
BA were always looking to consolidate their main London South and West operations and Gatwick was always the clear target. COVID has now accelerated the plan and provided different emphasis.
This was always in the pipeline which makes Newman’s decision at the time all the more pointless.