Reply To: BA Miffed Fleet

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Back in 2005/2006 us on legacy fleet were told we were no longer competitive and were given an ultimatum – pretty much accept MF T&C’s ourselves or see further crew taken on under these new T&C’s. BA of course would have liked to have enforced reduced T&C’s on us but legally could not find a way to do it.

MF was the brainchild of two BA cabin crew managers that have now moved on to positions in IAG (one ironically in charge of some IT related stuff). Instead of simply recruiting new crew to work alongside existing crew the decision was taken to essentially establish an airline within an airline…from the most junior to senior positions on board they would be new recruits. The recruitment and training would all be done by the newly recruited managers in Mixed Fleet too……not to be tarnished by ‘old ways’ of the legacy fleet trainers.

Initially BA pitched the remuneration deal as ‘market rate plus 10%’. One will notice the ‘plus 10%’ aspect was soon dropped and BA now quotes ‘market rate’. The first intakes saw the kind of recruits BA had hoped for – crew from the likes of Virgin Atlantic and Qantas all excited about joining BA. However these new recruits quickly saw that the BA they joined was nothing like the one they had heard of in the past – well paid crew with great T&C’s. Of course, word got back to their friends and ex colleagues at their previous airlines and candidates from those companies dried up and leaving another airline to join BA no longer became an aspiration as in the past.

It has to be said that there is nothing new in the ‘Mixed Fleet’ model within the airline industry. Most airlines have done the same or similar. Nearly all airlines have a ‘legacy’ and ‘new’ crew contract. Actually BA MF even continues to see recruits from Virgin Atlantic as they have made cuts to their already pretty lousy pay and T&C’s. Some of the other airlines follow the same method as BA in creating an entire new fleet from top to bottom and allocating the newbies their ‘own’ routes. Qantas is an example of this. Qantas cabin crew consists of ‘QAL’ (Qantas Airlines – legacy crew) or one of two wholly owned subsidary groups – Qantas Cabin Crew Australia (QCCA) and Qantas Cabin Crew UK (QCCUK). Only the new contract crew work on QF’s A380’s and the routes it serves. Yet – compare the standard of service received on a QF new contract flight versus a BA MF flight. QF have executed the new contract well. Firstly whilst they are paid nowhere near what their legacy colleagues are paid they are on a very decent package in terms of money. The gulf between legacy and new at QF is nowhere near as wide as BA. Secondly, their training is incredible. A lot more thorough than BA’s a lot more focus on cabin service. The biggest difference is that Qantas acknowledges the experience of their legacy fleet crew and there are programs in place to harness this experience where the new contract benefits. An example – legacy base crew can go to work alongside the new contract crew for fixed term secondments. This will usually involve a temporary promotion in rank. The legacy crew member will continue to receive their average legacy pay via a top up. However, the legacy crew member will work to the new contracts T&C’s. So although this legacy crew member will still cost QF the same the company gains through increased efficiency of the crew member as well as the experience and coaching provided to the new contract crew. BA scorns this approach. It does not want in any way shape or form to think that BA Mixed Fleet needs anything from the legacy fleet. In fact THEY are the elite fleet. They were the ones given the hats afterall remember? As usual its an approach from some manager that literally cannot see the end of his/her nose.

So, in short FDOS the point of MF is multi fold. Save money. Make the legacy fleet a ‘dying fleet’. But as is often the case, poorly executed.

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