British Airways scraps short-haul flights from Gatwick Airport

Airline fails to reach agreement with the pilots' group Balpa

British Airways' plans to launch a short-haul subsidiary at Gatwick Airport have been scrapped after talks with the UK pilots' union collapsed.

A spokeswoman for the airline said it was disappointed that it could not secure a deal with trade union Balpa and the company would now suspend most short-haul operations out of the UK's second-busiest airport.

She said: “After many years of losing money on European flights from the airport, we were clear that coming out of the pandemic, we needed a plan to make Gatwick profitable and competitive.

“With regret, we will now suspend our short-haul operations at Gatwick, with the exception of a small number of domestic services connecting to our long-haul operation, and will pursue alternative uses for the London Gatwick short-haul slots.”

The vast majority of British Airways’ short-haul flights from the West Sussex airport have been suspended since March 2020 because of the pandemic.

In an email to staff seen by PA, the airline's chief operating officer Jason Mahoney wrote that the terms offered to Balpa were "the best that could be achieved in order to create a viable and sustainable operation at London Gatwick", but the union chose not to continue with a ballot of its members on the issue.

Mr Mahoney said that the resumption of short-haul flights at Gatwick in summer 2022 would have been "good for our business as we try to recover and pay back the debts that the pandemic has necessitated".

British Airways planned for the new business to initially have up to 17 Airbus A320 aircraft based at Gatwick in summer 2022, with more added in line with demand over the next three to four years.

Updated: September 23rd 2021, 1:43 PM