Good News, Bad News for British Airways as Antitrust Immunity Approved and Flight Attendants Reject Offer

The management team at British Airways must be doing their best impression of a manic depressive this week as they swing from great news to crappy news. The great news? The airline received final approval for antitrust immunity with American. The crappy news? The flight attendants have once again rejected BA’s offer. Unbelievable.

The flight attendant deal British Airways Happy and Sadis actually the one that has me shaking my head the most. These guys are absolutely insane. After BA put out an improved final offer, it was thought that the deal might have had a chance. It didn’t even get close.

There are about 11,000 union members and not even half voted. In fact, only 5,105 voted, two-thirds of which voted no. You would think that a vote on a contract that has resulted in a lot of strikes and tons of losses for the airline would get a bit more turnout than a mere 50% That’s just downright pathetic. It’s even more surprising since there’s a good chance that these flight attendants will end up out of a job once this is all said and done. I’m not sure what the flight attendants think they’re going to get out of this, but they might want to consider the likelihood that the only thing they’ll get is a pink slip.

But let’s not focus on all the idiocy. Instead, let’s talk about the good news. British Airways and American found themselves leaders of a shiny new joint venture with antitrust immunity yesterday. After getting European Union approval earlier this week, the Department of Transportation gave its final blessing. It’s now a done deal. American and British Airways will be able to compete on equal footing with the Lufthansa/United-led Atlantic Plus Plus venture as well as the Delta/Air France/KLM deal. If those two groups are able to operate with antitrust immunity, so should the combined BA and AA-led venture.

So now we have a much strengthened oneworld alliance. This will ultimately mean that BA Executive Club members will be able to earn miles on American flights between the US and the UK. American AAdvantage members will be able to earn miles on British Airways flights between the UK and the US as well . . . assuming BA’s flight attendants don’t ground the airline again.

Damn, I just have to keep coming back to the negative, don’t I? The flight attendants aren’t likely to strike again until after the busy summer season, but that problem will be back.

If only BA could take medication to temper the problem.


16 Responses to Good News, Bad News for British Airways as Antitrust Immunity Approved and Flight Attendants Reject Offer

  1. AviaX says:

    To be honest – I cannot understand such behavior of unions. What’s the purpose for killing your own employer?…

    • Nicholas Barnard says:

      Well unions made more sense when the employers were killing the employees. (either directly or indirectly)

  2. If only 50% of the F/A’s voted, then those that didn’t have no right to complain about anything and should be doing their job per company rules. You would think that something that involves your job and more importantly your pay check would have full 100% voting even if they all voted no.

    Maybe the F/A’s think AA will now pressure BA to give in so as to not give bad press to their new venture.

    • FBKSan says:

      Why? If the flight attendants new that even if half didn’t vote it would get voted down, there’s no need to show up? The same phenomenon holds in political elections: it doesn’t much matter if, as a Republican, I turn out to vote in Wyoming, since the result is almost certainly going to go my way.

      Moreover, if the flight attendants voted the agreement down, presumably they did so knowing the consequences. There’s some change BA will offer more concessions, some chance they’ll be fired, and some change the company will fold (in part) due to their decision. Apparently the majority felt this was a worthwhile risk. Some of us may think it was a poor decision, but they felt it was the one that maximized their chance of meeting their goals, whatever those goals may be.

  3. Oliver says:

    Re ” This will ultimately mean that BA Executive Club members will be able to earn miles on American flights between the US and the UK.”

    I’d think that’s a change that AA/BA will make right away, given that it’s a significant disadvantage for BA/AA customers so far.

  4. Red Rock says:

    “This will ultimately mean that BA Executive Club members will be able to earn miles on American flights between the US and the UK.”

    One small clarification/add: The north Atlantic frequent flyer reciprocity was not historically restricted by the lack of anti-trust but has been an issue of AA protecting their AAdvantage members defecting to BA metal while earning AA miles. With ATI, this becomes a mute point and until AA buries their coffin-like J class product, expect AAdvantage members raiding the larder.

    • FBKSan says:

      Indeed, this was my understanding as well. Cranky, can you elaborate? It seems to me this was more an issue of protectionist policy on the part of AA. It’s great that they’re likely to change the policy, but we shouldn’t let them use the anti-trust immunity as an excuse for an otherwise poor policy. Singapore isn’t a member of the UA/LH anti-trust group, but I can still earn miles flying them JFK to Frankfurt.

    • CF says:

      I don’t know all the details of this, but I do believe that the decision to not allow for mileage earning was a decision made by the airlines.

  5. CJ Taylor says:

    I’m still smarting at your inane and unnecessary swipe at Birmingham , AL, yesterday..Birmingham has taken a bad rap for many decades without justification.. Best to avoid alienation of readership…

  6. Nick says:

    Ignorance breeds ignorance, either bring back Maggie, or a Lemming expert – :-)

  7. David says:

    I thought that BA and AA decided to set up a policy of not allowing mutual earning of miles, because otherwise there was too much of a risk of ending up in court on charges of cartel / collusion. By clearly showing full competition on flights over the Atlantic, it means that the great bearded one (aka Branson) would be unable to make a complaint to a court. Now they essentially have the rights to co-operate / collude on transatlantic flights, they don’t need to worry about Branson moaning to a judge

  8. frank says:

    The flight attendant deal is actually the one that has me shaking my head the most. These guys are absolutely insane. After BA put out an improved final offer, it was thought that the deal might have had a chance. It didn’t even get close.
    ========================================================

    well, if the FLIGHT BENEFITS remain “taken away” for thousands of flight attendants at British Airways, then NO WONDER they voted it down. Educate yourself on the careers of flight attendants and you’ll find out (stateside at least) a VERY LARGE portion of flight attendants live outside of their bases and commute to work. Approving this contract would require F/A’s to move or quit.

    • David Z says:

      then NO WONDER they voted it down.

      There’s about 11,000 union members, yet not even half voted? What about the others?

    • Frank V says:

      >>well, if the FLIGHT BENEFITS remain “taken away” for thousands of flight attendants at British Airways, then NO WONDER they voted it down.

      Nice misrepresentation of the facts.

      What the flight attendants at BA are doing is akin to someone who kills both their parents and begs the court for mercy because they are an orphan.

      BA management clearly told the FA’s that if they took a particular job action they would lose those benefits forever. Those that took the action lost their benefits. Clean and simple. Now, the union leadership that gave their members such bad advice to begin with, is continuing to lead them on a path of self destruction.

      While I certainly agree that in many ways flight attendants get a raw deal, the loff of flight benefits was of their own making. IF BA does not hold firm on this, then they will forever lose their credibility and negotiating power.

      • frank says:

        Nice misrepresentation of the facts.

        What the flight attendants at BA are doing is akin to someone who kills both their parents and begs the court for mercy because they are an orphan
        ==================================================

        What did I misrepresent? If those benefits are gone for alot of those strikers, then by voting YES, they are essentially voting themselves out of a job, as I stated above, many crewmembers COMMUTE TO WORK by air.
        If the contract was concessionary in nature anyway, BA has already won and should of reinstated the flight benefits. BOTH SIDES would of gained something.
        David Z, I see your point. I can only guess why they didnt vote. They saw the new tentative agreement and thought, if I vote yes, then I’m voting my coworkers out of a job. (commuters). if I vote no, the next tentative may be worse. Torn decision, so many stayed neutral.

  9. Crissy says:

    If the flight attendants were told that of they went on strike they would lose their benefits forever (and I haven’t followed this quite close enough to know if they were), then I have absolutely no sympathy for them. If that benefit is so important to them for working then they made a bad choice – they voted themselves out of a job when they didn’t show up to work.

    I think it was a low move by BA, but in the end each FA made their own decision.

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