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Despite industrial strike action taking place at Heathrow today, we'd like to reassure our passengers that the airport continues to operate safely and with minimal impacts.

We are disappointed that Unite has decided to take strike action during the worst crisis to hit the aviation sector.

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in dire impacts on the aviation industry which has seen Heathrow's passenger numbers drop by over 80% and more than £1.5bn losses recorded already this year.

We want to share with you how over a period of 8 months we have been negotiating with unions to protect the business and the jobs of our colleagues at this time.

We believe we are the only business in the UK's aviation sector to commit to offering a role to all our frontline colleagues, thus avoiding compulsory redundancies. Our final proposal meets this commitment - providing a job for every one of our frontline colleagues that wants one, at market rates and above the London Living Wage.

That’s no small feat. That’s a permanent job in the middle of an economic crisis in which Heathrow continues to lose £5 million a day due to travel and quarantine restrictions.

However, to make this possible we’ve had to make the difficult decision to correct historical inequalities in pay as a result of legacy contracts. These legacy contracts have seen some colleagues over time be paid up to 30% above market value and significantly more than their counterparts doing the exact same role.

In order to secure a job for all colleagues, we have therefore proposed a structure where everyone is paid fairly at market value for their roles across the board. Put simply, this is about ensuring the market rate pay for everyone, for the same job.

The vast majority of colleagues will see an increase in pay, no change or a small reduction.

For all those affected by this correction to market rates we have proposed a generous buy down which protects their current salary for two years. And for the very small number affected by more than 10% have also been offered a generous voluntary severance scheme as an alternative. 

Over 4,500 colleagues have chosen the new terms and only 364 have chosen voluntary severance, this suggests that our approach to focus on protecting jobs is the correct one. 

It is true that we are a well-financed business and we do have liquid cash reserves to weather this storm a while longer – but not forever. The latest global estimates suggest we may not see international travel recover fully until 2025, some expect it to take even longer.

That’s why alongside cutting operational costs we’ve also reshaped the managerial roles in our business to prepare for this new commercial reality. In April, one third of our managerial colleagues left while those that remained are taking a 15% pay reduction for 9 months to help the business survive.

Heathrow is in a good position to survive this crisis. But we cannot take be complacent or take this for granted.

  • Heathrow has recorded losses of over £1.5bn this year and seen passenger numbers reduced by over 80% as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Passenger numbers are not estimated to return until 2024, according to industry wide estimates
  • Our proposal, following over eight months of discussions with unions, provides a job for every frontline colleague that wants one
  • The majority of colleagues will see an increase in pay, no change, or small reduction
  • Over 4,200 colleagues have accepted the new terms and conditions, while only 364 have chosen a generous voluntary severance
  • Those who are paid significantly above market rates have been offered generous buy down scheme that protects their current salary for two years or voluntary severance
  • A total of 7 out of the 16 areas balloted by Unite achieved an affirmative strike action vote
  • We have in place robust contingency plans to ensure the airport remains open and operating safely on those days as well.