When livelihoods are at stake, you’d think businesses could work together to support a greater good. In the case of proposed UK airline bailouts, you’d also be wrong. By all accounts, proposals and ideas to stabilize the UK airline industry are playing out like a Greek drama, with modern day, daytime soap twists. Villains, profiteers, backstabbing, and a few love stories – it’s all there.
The Story So Far
The UK Government is mulling plans to provide sweeping financial support to airlines in the form of a large credit facility, and potentially even equity stakes.
British Airways parent company IAG made it clear from the very beginning – they don’t want bailouts. They also then made it abundantly clear that if any are going around, they’d like one anyway.
And then they blurred it all, crossing messages, when IAG Chief Willie Walsh said balance sheets were so good, they didn’t need the bailouts, at the same time British Airways CEO Alex Cruz noted that cost reductions were necessary to ensure the airlines survival.
Bonuses have been axed for British Airways employees, yet IAG and British Airways executives were paid bonuses this year in a year, as reward for near record setting profits.
Ahead of their ultimate collapse, Ryanair, British Airways and parent company IAG were adamant that the UK government shouldn’t bailout Flybe, including legal threats. Flybe’s collapse resulted in a roughly $100m windfall of Flybe’s take off and landing slots, which were awarded entirely to BA without bidding. Funny how that works.
No bailout for thee, but if a bailout is going, hopefully funds for me.
Virgin Atlantic has made it clear from the beginning that access to credit resources would be welcomed, and in reality – likely essential for the airlines long term survival.
The airline was only just beginning to turn a corner after years of rough finances, but with a clear position and early decisive moves from leadership, they appear to be the only airline banding together from the board room to the break room.
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We couldn’t be prouder of our people right now. They’ve been working tirelessly, day and night, to make sure our customers are taken care of. They’ve dealt with 137,546 enquiries from people in the last week. They’ve agreed to make personal sacrifices to keep the company going. And still the Virgin spirit has never been stronger. And a huge thank you to you, our customers, for all the love shown to Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays during a really tough time for everyone. It means the world to us.
Despite these quarrels across the various airlines, differences sounded as if they were being put aside as signs of a prolonged slowdown emerged. British Airways may have been duplicitous and had ulterior motives, but at least they were clever enough to keep the cards out of sight.
Just as it was all about to go right, enter proverbial drunk uncle EasyJet, who got a little too excited about it all.
In the middle of bailout and credit opportunity talks, EasyJet dished out dividends amounting to greater than £170 million, including £60 million directly to billionaire founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou, who founded the airline using dough from his family’s shipping fortune.
No doubt, the £60 million windfall will help the family, presently worth over £1.2 billion to weather these times. #thoughtsandprayers
Which leads the richest of all plot twists in this epic drama, EasyJet employees.
At the same time EasyJet was asking the government for cash, while handing out millions in cash to billionaires, the airline pushed a new cabin crew agreement which removed free cabin crew meals, nixed pay rises and created unfavorable long term conditions for staff.
This lead to the plot twist not even Hollywood could’ve imagined. Over 27,000 EasyJet staff and counting have signed a petition asking the government NOT to bail out the airline, unless they removed the awful new conditions.
This is labor dispute is now a fundamental hold up in proposed government action.
Yes, the very people whose jobs were at risk found the airline so abhorrent, they would’ve rather lost out personally than seen the airline be rewarded with government funds for such awful behavior. Talk about moral building…
All signs point to the government finding a solution to provide the credit facilities needed for each airline to survive these times, and GSTP hopes whole heartedly that every one of these airlines does. They each play a vital role in the market which creates competitive fares, new and exciting ways to fly and the only thing which makes you richer – travel.
With all that said, popcorn is at the ready as the Greek drama twists and turns.