The dispute that threatened to cause a walkout of British Airways check-in staff at Heathrow airport during the summer holidays has been suspended, after the airline made a “vastly improved” pay offer.
After a day of talks on Wednesday a package was agreed with the Unite union that sources said in effect met its demand to restore the 10% pay cut introduced during the pandemic.
A one-off bonus payment for 2022 worth 10% of pay had earlier been rejected.
The offer will now be put to a ballot of Unite members but both parties hope that the agreement will resolve the immediate dispute.
A British Airways spokesperson said: “We are very pleased that, following collaboration with the unions, they have decided not to issue dates for industrial action. This is great news for our customers and our people.”
Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary, said: “We welcome that BA has finally listened to the voice of its check-in staff. Unite has repeatedly warned that pay disputes at BA were inevitable unless the company took our members’ legitimate grievances seriously.”
The news came a day after BA announced it would be cancelling another 10,300 flights this summer as the labour shortages at airlines and airports continued to jeopardise holiday travel.
A 72-hour strike over pay by one of the four refuelling firms at Heathrow remains in place for the start of the school holiday period, threatening possible further disruption.
The holiday airline Jet2 said on Thursday it would be giving its employees an 8% pay rise and a £1,000 cost of living payment this year, as it lashed out at British airports for being “woefully ill-prepared” for the rebound in travel this summer.
Jet2 executive chair, Philip Meeson, said the airports’ failure to recruit staff was inexcusable, and was to blame for the chaotic scenes over the holiday periods this year and for thousands of flight cancellations.
He said most of the 10 UK airports where Jet2 operated had been “woefully ill-prepared and poorly resourced for the volume of customers they could reasonably expect”.
Meeson added: “Ground-handling suppliers’ often atrocious customer service, long queues for security search, lack of staff and congestion in baggage handling … have each contributed to a very much poorer experience at the start and finish of our customers’ holidays than they were entitled to expect.”
It had occurred, he said, “simply because of the lack of planning, preparedness and unwillingness to invest by many airports and associated suppliers”.
Another cost of living deal has meanwhile been agreed for the lowest-paid workers at NatWest, Unite said. The bank has agreed to give the 17,000 staff earning less than £32,000 an additional 4% pay increase, according to the union.
Unite said it was an important first step and it would continue to press for an increase for the remaining employees “who also need support during these challenging financial times”.