BA fires 85 cabin crew as it closes HK base

Top News | Sophie Hui 27 Sep 2018

British Airways has fired more than 80 airline staff in closing its Hong Kong crew base to cut costs.

About 60 of the staff were under continuous employment contracts, including attendants who had been with the airline for years. Another 24 were workers who had contracts renewed every 12 months.

The airline met its Hong Kong workers in groups yesterday to inform them their contracts were being terminated immediately.

The general secretary of the BA Hong Kong International Cabin Crew Association, Carol Ng Man-yee, said everyone at the crew base would stop working after today, with all of them apparently dismissed in accordance with labor laws.

The base will be closed completely on October 31.

Ng also said the company would meet staff individually, which would include them being told if they would be given additional compensation.

But she added that the union was not satisfied with the arrangements, saying it was a "disrespectful ending" for people who had worked for the airline for years.

Ng was also put out by BA giving workers only three and a half days to consider their redundancy packages.

Under UK law, she added, workers must be given adequate time to consult their unions on whether to accept redundancy terms.

She also pointed out that sacking all Hong Kong crew members could cause problems on flights if no members of a crew understood Cantonese, especially if there were medical situations and disputes.

Unionists say the airline closed the crew base to cut costs, especially as its long-serving staff members qualified for higher pay and benefits. It was also thought that dismissals were immediate to prevent strike action being arranged.

The British flag carrier currently operates four flights daily between Hong Kong and London Heathrow, and the airline claims the closure will not affect services. "While we are really grateful to our crew in Hong Kong for all of their hard work and dedication over the years, our strategic model is to operate this route entirely with London-based crew," said a BA spokeswoman.

This came after a review of global operations, she added.

The airline has already dismissed staff members at outstation crew bases in Singapore and South America.

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