BA pilots set to take pay cut for shares

British Airways (BA) pilots are set to vote in favour of a deal that will see them take a pay cut in exchange for company shares in order to cut payroll costs at the airline.

Pilots will each take a wage cut of 2.61% on their basic pay in October this year, as well as a 20% cut in flying time allowances. The changes will generate £26 million of annual savings for BA.

In exchange, the pilots will benefit from a long-term incentive scheme. In June 2011, they will be eligible to receive BA shares worth £13 million if certain company targets are achieved. The pilots will individually have to hold these for three years, to June 2014, when they will be free to sell them or hold on to them.

The British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) said the arrangement is designed to help steer BA through the economic downturn while also giving pilots the mechanism to take a share in the wealth they will help to create.

The package also allows for up to 78 voluntary pilot redundancies as a result of changes to productivity. There will be no compulsory redundancies as part of this package. The changes will be put to the vote of all 3,200 BA pilots who are members of BALPA this week, with a three-week voting period.

A spokesman for BA said: “We are pleased we have reached an agreement with BALPA and that it will recommend the proposals to its pilot members in a forthcoming ballot. The proposal involves a combination of reduced pay, increased productivity and some long term structural changes in how pilots are rewarded.”

BALPA general secretary Jim McAuslan said: ”This is a unique agreement. We have always said that as a union we would share the pain if our members shared in the gain.”