British Airways is set to rehire up to 3,000 cabin crew after thousands of jobs were cut when the Covid-19 pandemic hit.
The airline, which laid off some 10,000 employees in spring and summer of 2020, has reportedly started offering jobs for next summer as the travel industry slowly recovers from the crisis.
The move comes after the UK and the US agreed to ease travel restrictions between the two major tourist and business destinations.
In an internal email sent to staff, BA called the governments’ decision to roll back the restrictive measures a “major milestone” for the long-suffering industry, reports The Financial Times. It also said staff would be brought on board from next summer.
“Finally we are beginning to see some real momentum as more countries open up for travel and consumer confidence grows,” BA said.
Staff who took voluntary redundancy had the option of putting their names into a “talent pool” to be considered for future roles once the rehiring process started.
The airline is understood to have reached out to some people in this group with new offers of employment.
Staff that remained on the payroll following the cull had to accept lower wages and demotions. The union Unite said some employees accepted a 35 per cent drop in pay in order to continue working.
It said the airline is now planning to rehire about a third of the total number of employees it let go last year, but BA did not confirm how many staff it would take back.
Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary, said the rehiring plan shows “there was never any need to sack thousands of dedicated BA staff”, which the union had argued against last year.
She accused BA of conducting an “abhorrent practice of fire and rehire” and ignoring less drastic options.
"Now, fewer than 12 months later BA is championing its intention to recruit thousands of new staff, insultingly even asking those crew it sacked needlessly last year to re-apply on substantially reduced terms and conditions,” Ms Graham added.
"It is yet another bad faith act from a business that should be focusing on repairing both a tattered workforce and customer relations, not cutting yet more corners in order to reward the boardroom.”
Unite also criticised the airline’s refusal to withdraw a threat to lay off existing staff members this winter.
Ms Graham said the move had caused a “deplorable” level of insecurity for staff and called for the airline to offer assurances about job protection.