British Airways HR director refuses to rule out job cuts in 2008

British Airways’ (BA) HR director Tony McCarthy has refused to rule out job cuts this side of Christmas as the flagship airline struggles with falling profits.

Speaking exclusively to Personnel Today, McCarthy said that he was working hard to avoid losing staff following a fall of almost 90% in the company’s first-quarter profits, but could not promise anything.

“We have not taken any knee-jerk reactions, but what we are doing is looking properly and professionally at what needs to be done to ensure profit and sustainability,” said McCarthy.

“The two issues impacting us are the credit crunch and rising oil costs, and these market conditions are making things quite difficult,” he added. “I don’t expect any job cuts, but we are looking at what we need to do holistically.”

Earlier this month, BA announced cost-cutting measures, including reducing the number of winter flights by 3.1%, and freezing a large recruitment drive for cabin crew and pilots that had been in place before McCarthy joined in November last year.

“The closest we’ve come to job cuts is to stop recruitment,” said McCarthy. “We were on a heavy-growth recruitment drive, but stopping that should suffice.”

He also said things had settled down since officials from trade unions Unite and the GMB met with BA’s chief executive Willy Walsh to discuss a proposed merger with Spain’s Iberia airline, which could result in the loss of 7,000 jobs.

“From the difficulty we had earlier in the year, things have calmed down, the airline is doing well, and we’re in discussions with unions about how we move forward,” said McCarthy.

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