The British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa) has attacked British Airways’ new subsidiary, OpenSkies, describing it as a “Trojan horse” aimed at reducing pay and conditions of existing pilots.
Balpa, which represents 3,200 BA pilots, is balloting members on a possible strike over plans for the new subsidiary.
The ballot ends on 20 February and could lead to the first industrial action by BA pilots since 1980.
BA plans to set up OpenSkies to fly between mainland Europe and the US from June under a new US-European Union air services treaty. It has said it will appoint new pilots to the company.
Jim McAuslan, Balpa general secretary, said: “The company will use this poorer-paid pilot force as a Trojan horse to beat down the pay and conditions of its current pilot employees.”
“We have seen the evidence and what BA proposes is an attack on current pilots and their families. That is why we are vigorously opposing this outsourcing. OpenSkies will be using BA planes and they should be crewed by BA pilots.
‘Around the world major airlines are setting up a subsidiary which starts with just a few aircraft, but which is rapidly expanded using outsourced pilots. The main line pilots are then told they must cut back their own pay and conditions to the levels of the subsidiary.
“We have seen it happening around the world and we are fighting to prevent it happening here,” McAuslan said.