British Airways’ has dropped plans to create a new short-haul subsidiary at Gatwick airport, after it was unable to reach an agr eement with pilots’ union BALPA.

Following the onset of Covid-19 last year, the carrier consolidated the majority of its short-haul operations at Heathrow airport, and in April it confirmed that this would continue to be the case until the end of October.

In August we reported that BA was in talks with unions over its short-haul services at the south London airport, with proposals for a new operating subsidiary for summer 2022, alongside the carrier’s existing long-haul flights at the airport.

British Airways in union talks over Gatwick operations

But those talks have ended without agreement, with BA providing Business Traveller with the following statement:

“We’re disappointed that our plans for a new short-haul subsidiary at Gatwick have not received BALPA’s support. After many years of losing money on European flights from the airport, we were clear that coming out of the pandemic, we needed a plan to make Gatwick profitable and competitive.

“With regret, we will now suspend our short-haul operations at Gatwick, with the exception of a small number of domestic services connecting to our long-haul operation, and will pursue alternative uses for the London Gatwick short-haul slots.”

It is understood that all short-haul flights from Gatwick have now been removed from the carrier’s reservation system (except for a small number of domestic services including Glasgow).

The question now is what happens to BA’s slots at Gatwick, assuming that an agreement cannot be reached going forward.

The carrier could opt to sell some / all of them to a competitor such as Wizz Air or Easyjet, or there has been speculation it could pass them to fellow IAG member carriers Aer Lingus or Vueling.

BALPA has also released the following statement from acting general secretary, Martin Chalk:

“We are disappointed that we couldn’t come to arrangements that were acceptable to our members. We stand ready to work with BA to find such arrangements that could be acceptable.”