BA maintains ‘lifeline’ air link to Gib
British Airways will continue to provide a service to Gibraltar up to four times a week, with the link providing a “lifeline” to Gibraltar at this critical time.
The airline will be operating a service from London Heathrow to Gibraltar four times a week as from April 9 on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays.
The service is expected to continue throughout April and into May, subject to the wider picture.
Continuation into June and beyond will be assessed nearer the time.
The Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo said: “I am delighted that we have been able to agree that British Airways will continue operating to Gibraltar providing a lifeline to our community and those around Gibraltar, not only for those people that need to travel for essential purposes but to ensure the carriage of persons and goods which may be vital to the current crisis as well as mail, cargo, courier services and other items that are crucial at this time."
“This is a great result for Gibraltar at this challenging time.”
Speaking at the 4pm press briefing on Friday, the Deputy Chief Minister Dr Joseph Garcia, said the service was also important for the return of those stranded elsewhere.
“There are still people waiting to return home,” he said adding that a group of five is expected back from Heathrow and all will be asked to self-isolate.
“We are aware of 19 others in different countries. Three in Australia, four in India, one in the United States and the largest group of eleven remaining in Morocco.”
The announcement came as BA, along with most other airlines, grounded most of its planes as lockdown measures are stepped up around Europe and much of the globe.
Earlier this week, the airline reached a deal to furlough British Airways staff because of the Covid-19 crisis.
Unite the Union said the airline will introduce a modified version of the UK Government’s job retention scheme, so that workers will be furloughed on 80% of pay.
Unlike the government scheme, there will be no cap on earnings, said the union.
Workers will be able to divert their pension contributions into their pay for a short period of time and there will be no unpaid temporary lay-offs or redundancies, said Unite, adding that a redundancy process that had already begun has been halted.
Unite national officer for aviation Oliver Richardson said: “Given the incredibly difficult circumstances that the entire aviation sector is facing this is as good a deal as possible for our members.”
“The deal protects the jobs of BA staff and, as far as possible, also protects their pay.”
“This is what can and should be done to protect workers during this unprecedented time for the airline sector.”
The deal will now be circulated to Unite’s members at British Airways for their final approval.
It is understood that around 28,000 BA staff are affected by the agreement.
BA said in a statement: “Our colleagues have done a brilliant job keeping vital routes open to reunite customers with their families, and bring back supplies to our hospitals, factories and shops.”
“But with the challenges of coronavirus, like many airlines, we have been in touch with colleagues to advise that we are implementing the furlough scheme to minimise the financial impact on them.”
The deal agreed with unions affects more than 30,000 employees, who will be paid 80% of their salary plus 80% of allowances.
Workers are being contacted individually to explain how they are affected, with the scheme running to May 31.
British Airways has also reached agreement with its 4,000 pilots to take four weeks of unpaid leave in April and May.
Contact centre staff supporting customers with queries are unaffected.