British Airways (BA) faces the prospect of fresh industrial tensions with pilots and cabin crew after three unions submitted a joint pay claim to the carrier, requesting that improvements in its financial results trickle down to staff.

The British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) has joined forces with cabin crew and ground staff unions Unite and GMB to demand pay increases from January 2019. They are also calling for enhanced profit-sharing arrangements and the introduction of an employee share ownership scheme.

Negotiations with the airline will begin this month, according to the unions.

“British Airways is continuing to deliver extraordinary financial results. In a remarkable transformation, the airline has moved from a £230 million ($366 million) operating loss in 2009 to a £1.8 billion profit in 2017, with an even better result forecast for 2018. BA staff made an essential contribution to this success by delivering change and increasing productivity,” unions BALPA, Unite and GMB said in a joint statement Nov. 30.

The unions have accused British Airways of allowing “a culture to develop in which employees are disconnected from the airline’s success.” Through their joint pay claim they aim to “re-establish this connection between financial success and staff reward.”

British Airways said it is “working with our unions to find a positive approach to our pay talks.” The carrier added that it has “begun a £6.5 billion, five-year investment program in our people and customer products.”

The UK carrier was hit by a number of cabin crew strikes throughout the summer of 2017, although disruptions were minimized as the airline drafted in wet-leased aircraft. British Airways reached a new pay agreement in October 2017 with cabin crew members represented by Unite. The deal ended a year-long dispute between the airline and its Mixed Fleet crew, who claimed to earn less than longer-serving employees.

British Airways’ parent company, International Airlines Group, said in October it expected operating profit before exceptional items for 2018 to increase by about €200 million (£178 million). 

Kerry Reals, kerry@realsreporting.com