Unite union, representing the majority of British Airways’ (BA) 14,000 cabin crew, confirmed its intention to conduct a strike vote on 14-Dec-2009 despite a UK High Court ruling that its dispute with BA must go to a full trial on 01-Feb-2010 (Guardian, 05-Nov-2009). The union will “unwillingly” accept changes which will reduce cabin crew from 15 to 14 on long-haul services by removing a senior purser. The union failed to obtain a court order blocking the decision. [more - Unite]
Union Says British Airways ballot goes ahead - cabin crew do not accept new contracts willingly
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China-UK air service agreement permits growth as Chinese airlines constrained in most other markets
An agreement between China and the UK to more than double their air service agreement is good timing for both sides. Chinese airlines are finding an imbalance: they are taking delivery of widebody aircraft and more Chinese airlines are flying long haul but traffic rights to major markets – the US, Canada, Germany and France – are becoming depleted. Negotiations to add traffic rights have not succeeded, typically due to the foreign side being concerned about accessing Chinese slots or Russian overflight rights.
The agreement with the UK to expand the number of weekly passenger flights from each side from 40 to 100 reflects considerable pragmatism on the part of the UK: British Airways and Virgin Atlantic are not growing in China, and China is a large growth opportunity. The UK has lagged on Chinese tourism. It was only in 2015 that China became the UK's largest inbound market.
Consistency is challenging: Chinese visitors to the UK decreased in 2014, then rapidly grew in 2015 and declined in 1H2016, although the full year looks more upbeat. The pound's post-Brexit depreciation has meant that the Chinese receive about 20% more for their currency. Despite a seeming alignment of factors in the UK's favour to grow tourism, it must continue to reform its visa policy so that the UK can compete with China's more preferred European markets of France, Germany and Italy.
London airports and a new runway: Heathrow the business champion but the biggest growth is elsewhere
As the British government approaches a final decision on the construction of an additional runway in southeast England it is pertinent to look at how passenger traffic is developing at the two main airports that are in contention – Heathrow and Gatwick, and at the next two largest London area airports, Stansted and Luton.
While Luton stepped back from the runway debate (its ‘proposal’ was submitted by a third party), the management at Stansted Airport (M.A.G), having been knocked back by the Airport Commission’s report, has found renewed vigour as the scope of the objections to both Heathrow and Gatwick expansion became clear. Indeed, the suggestion that the government might decide to let airports compete, rather than itself funnel resources into one location, has inspired M.A.G. to revisit its own ambitions for Stansted.
That is assuming of course that a decision is ever reached, as, unbelievably, it has been postponed yet again while the Prime Minister, Mrs May, ensures that a Cabinet transport sub-committee that is known to be divided on the issue has a good debate about it. Then, having made a recommendation, MPs - also divided - will have another year to argue over it and - perhaps - fail to reach a consensus.