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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