British Airways is suspending short-haul operations at London Gatwick Airport (LGW) after failing to come to an agreement on a new low-cost unit with the pilot union BALPA. 

The carrier, owned by International Airlines Group (IAG) (IAG), has faced stiff competition from budget rivals on short-haul European routes and had hoped a new subsidiary at LGW, which it hoped to operate from summer 2022, could help it to better compete. 

“After many years of losing money on European flights from the airport, we were clear that coming out of the pandemic, we needed a plan to make Gatwick profitable and competitive,” British Airways said in a statement, adding it was disappointed that the plans had not received support from the BALPA union. 

“With regret, we will now suspend our short-haul operations at Gatwick, with the exception of a small number of domestic services connecting to our long-haul operation, and will pursue alternative uses for the LGW short-haul slots,” the company added. 

BALPA Acting General Secretary Martin Chalk said the union had been unable to reach an acceptable agreement despite “best efforts”. 

“The company has informed us it is now pulling out of LGW short-haul and is considering what to do with its LGW slots,” Chalk said in an emailed statement. 

“BALPA remains open to future negotiations with British Airways to address our members' concerns with the proposal for LGW short-haul or about any other part of the business.”

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British Airways has plans to launch a new low-cost carrier by the summer of 2022 to be based in Gatwick airport