As Pilots Announce Strike Action, British Airways CEO Faces Difficult Questions Over 55% Pay Hike

British Airways Offering Staff £300 Referral Bonuses as Carrier Struggles to Fill Cabin Crew and Call Centre Jobs

British Airways has launched a new bonus scheme to encourage existing staff members to refer their friends or family to fill cabin crew and call centre jobs as the carrier struggles to fill vacancies and keep up with the rebound in travel demand.

Employees could earn as much as £300 per referral if the person they recommend for the job is hired and then stays in the post for a minimum of six months. A similar scheme was launched by Southwest Airlines last week to address its own staffing crunch.

British Airways is looking to recruit as many as 3,000 new cabin crew in time for next summer while the carrier is also recalling staff who took extended periods of unpaid leave, and rehiring crew who took voluntary redundancy last year.

Like other carriers, BA slashed thousands of jobs at the start of the pandemic but the Heathrow-based airline is now struggling to hire back lost workers at a fast enough rate to keep up with the momentum of the recovery.

Recruitment challenges that are affecting many hospitality businesses have been compounded by changes governing the ability of companies to hire people who don’t reside in the UK, especially in Europe following Brexit.

Last week, the BASSA flight attendant union said its members were “struggling” to cope because of inadequate staffing levels. The union says British Airways is trying to hire crew on “substantially reduced terms and conditions”.

Southwest Airlines has faced staffing issues throughout the summer and has bumped up the value of its colleague referral scheme to the equivalent of $300 in the airline’s internal reward currency. So-called SWAG points can be exchanged for guest passes, gift cards, concert tickets and merchandise items.

“Southwest is experiencing a sharp decline in qualified applicants due to low labor force participation and competition for available talent,” wrote the airlines’ vice president and chief people officer Julie Weber in an internal memo last week.

The Dallas-based carrier has been forced to draw back its planned winter flight schedule after flight attendants and other workers complained they were exhausted. A travel meltdown in October demonstrated just how close to the wire, Southwest’s operation has been over the last few months.

Mateusz Maszczynski

Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.

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