Is British Airways A “National Disgrace”?

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Times are tough for all airlines, but British Airways now has an additional problem after being labelled a “national disgrace” by MPs.

A report by the Commons Transport Select Committee concluded:

“The behaviour of British Airways and its parent company towards its employees is a national disgrace. It falls well below the standards we would expect from any employer, especially in light of the scale of taxpayer subsidy, at this time of national crisis.”

Chair of the Transport Committee, Huw Merriman MP, expanded on the Committee’s view:

It is unacceptable that a company would seek to drive this level of change under the cover of a pandemic.

We looked closely at BA’s plans to consult on at least 12000 redundancies and change the terms and conditions of the bulk of its employees. Many submitted written evidence to our inquiry and we thank them.  As a committee, we have sought to examine this further and drive change using the means open to us through the House, asking Urgent Questions, seeking debates, introducing legislation and putting questions directly to the Prime Minister. We will continue to bring pressure where we can, including the airport slot allocation process.  This wanton destruction of a loyal work force cannot appear to go without sanction – by Government, parliamentarians or paying passengers who may choose differently in future. We view it is as a national disgrace.”

It is fair to say that the criticism has stung BA’s top team, with CEO Alex Cruz making the effort to write a rebuttal. The article spends an unfortunate amount of time attacking Government, MPs, and trade unions, but there are a few paragraphs in the middle that are worth considering:

“Economists at IATA predict international air travel won’t return to the levels of 2019 until at least 2023. 

At BA, 98.2 per cent of our business is international. We know we will emerge from the Covid-19 crisis as a much smaller airline. We will have fewer customers and fly to fewer routes for years to come. 

Our business will be laden with hundreds of millions of pounds in new debt, much of which must be repaid over a short term, so any revenues we make when we return to flying will be swallowed up by loan repayments. 

Meanwhile, fleet-of-foot overseas competitors will be waiting in the wings to take the landing slots at Heathrow that our MPs have suggested BA does not deserve. British Airways has no absolute right to exist. We are in a fight to survive and, like our peers, we must consult in an honest, transparent and meaningful way on proposals to reduce the size of our workforce.”

Bottom line

Perhaps the most interesting point is that it seems that MP’s threats to take Heathrow landing slots away from BA have hit home. I wonder if we might see more conciliatory moves from now on…

Do you think that BA is a national disgrace, or is it just a company trying its best in very difficult circumstances?


  1. Craig Sowerby says

    Cruz et al way overplayed their hand. Nobody would have cared much about “we need to make some redundancies”. But “we are going to sack everybody and hire some of them back on poverty pay?!?!?!?!”

    Definitely a disgrace and I’m all in favour of taking away some of their slots.

    • Davi blake says

      BA is not a national disgrace. It did not like virgin start by trying to get government support or else.
      However, it does seem to be politically unaware at times and is not very good at putting across a balanced way forward.
      I would not like to see uk capability and staff put at risk so that Middle East airlines grab slots etc.

      • G Lawrence says

        BA are a total disgrace, to treat employees in this manner is shameful. Many employees are losing over 55% of their present salary in return for far worse working terms and conditions. Could you survive on less than half pay?

  2. Robin Knowles says

    British Airways has been a disgrace for years. Shrinking service, high prices, constantly lost bags, strikes. I have refused to fly with them for over 20 years. I suggest others do the same

    • Chris says

      They’ve been a disgrace for years with high fares rarely matched by service. But, locked in their Spanish ivory tower, they seem not to have noticed, just as they’ve badly misjudged the public mood. Maybe they thought a display of bestiality to the staff would impress shareholders. A lot of passengers will want to punish them for that. All airlines feel sorry for themselves but BA’s self-pity takes the biscuit. Walsh may say that the acquisition of Air Europa is strictly an Iberia thing. The fact remains, IAG had enough cash to buy another airline while subjecting BA staff to protracted torture that feels like mismanagement, assuming it’s not sadism. If anyone doubts they’re tone-deaf, look at the latest BA commercial on YouTube. They’d be well advised not to air it on TV. In light of what is happening to people who have spent their career with BA, I found it stomach-turning.

    • FIROZ JARIYA says


  3. Brian says

    BA has been a national disgrace for a long time. Refusal to serve Scotland internationally resulted in Qatar and Emirates getting a LARGE foothold for flights Eastbound , while United, American, Delta and Air Transat for flights Westbound.
    They deserved to lose market share.
    When BA became part of IAG then EVERYTHING got worse. Food is pathetic, service is woeful. Staff really don’t care as pay has been cut before and now the are doing the same. Soon pilots, F/O’s and cabin crew will be paid the same as the big American airlines……….badly.

    In A Which 2019 (Independant)report BA was the second WORST airline for short-haul travel with only Vueing Airlines(Part of IAG Group) and Ryanair below them.

    In the same report, for long-haul, BA was 14th with Virgin in 4th, for comparison. BA has the Worlds most profitable route in LHR-JFK JFK/LHR making over a BILLION pounds profit yearly but still treat their staff and passengers badly.

    IS BA a “National Disgrace””? the question/headline should read BA is STILL a NATIONAL DISGRACE and becoming a NATIONAL JOKE.

  4. Will Duff says

    Badly executed, maybe tone-deaf, but there are a lot of airlines who will simply go down in the coming years, if not months. As an old frequent flyer – with family in S-E Asia & Australasia, my pension has not run to their prices for a long time when I did look. Hence I don’t know if the complaints about service are true; I do feel sorry for their staff, and just hope for all concerned the “Pyrrhic victory” of total loss does not come about.

  5. Mike Marshall says

    Ever since Wilie Walsh started at British Airways back in 2005, he seems hell-bent on running the Company into the ground all in the interests of profit. I hate that word, but unfortunately, all companies exist based on the ability to produce a profit.
    However, BA has for the best part always had a really great Staff base, and in my opinion, they have always performed very well. That is until Willie Walsh came on the scene, and set about destroying what was a very proud workforce.
    I have very fond memories of when Lord King and Colin Marshall were at the helm and dragged BA up from being a Nationalised Company to being a World Class Airline.
    I only hope that someone in the Government wakes up before it is too late, and puts a stop to the reduction of our National Flag carrier to a third rate, cheap airfare airline.

  6. James Gray says

    Regardless of BA’s position I think that UK politicians are hardly in a position to comment. At the start of the current problems they awarded themselves a 3% pay rise plus a bonus of £10,000 each then denied any NHS staff any rise at all.

  7. Mark Tasker says

    Definitely a national disgrace. I gave up flying with them a while back due to their general attitude to both staff and customers.

  8. alistair nicoll says

    Looking at the way the British politicians have handled the crisis I do not think that they are in any position to criticise BA they need to get their own house in order first. I am not a user of BA preferring the delights of other airlines but all airlines are going to have to take drastic action to survive the crisis and that means unpopular decisions

  9. David says

    I stopped flying BA long haul via LHR 25 years ago when I tired of the ‘long walk’ from T1 to T4. I used them short haul until 2008 until Willie W removed all MAN direct flights on BA save for the LHR and LGW shuttles. I still used BA for long haul holidays from LGW to the Caribbean using AMEX 2-4-1 but Willie then stopped the MAN – LGW connection in 2011 forcing a train, coach, or taxi transfer to LGW. No thanks – despite having a zillion unused Avios I prefer those other airlines that avoid LHR.

    Their LHR centric policy doesn’t work for us business flyers in the provinces. For long haul, we have moved to direct flights from MAN or GLA though I do admit to using Finnair via HEL, my new favourite airline and airport, for Asian destinations. For short haul there is abundant connections on LH, AF, or SK. The ‘World’s Favourite Airline’ – only if you live within spitting distance of LHR.

  10. D Lawrence says

    BA are a total disgrace. To treat loyal staff in this way is shameful, employees are being pressured into accepting up to a 55% salary cut in return for far worse working conditions (zero hour contracts) Could you survive on a 55% wage cut?

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