British Airways (BA) is planning to cut up to 15% of its baggage handling staff – the group of workers who staged last week’s wildcat strikes at Heathrow – according to newspaper reports.
The Observer reports the ‘headcount reductions’ come as part of the airline’s plans for consolidating all of its Heathrow operations into the new terminal five, which is currently under construction.
BA employs around 2,500 baggage handlers at Heathrow. They have been involved in industrial action for the past two summers, as well as the unofficial walkout that paralysed BA’s flights at Heathrow last week.
Such a move could stoke fears that the airline’s chief executive Willie Walsh, who gained a reputation for cutting costs following his three-year tenure at Irish airline Aer Lingus, will initiate radical cuts among BA’s 30,000 Heathrow staff.
However, BA has pointed out that any headcount reductions would not necessarily involve forced redundancies, and that staff could be redeployed to other areas.