British Airways is a very popular Arline to work for and all new recruits become members of British Airways Mixed Fleet- but what does that mean? In this post I explain what the three main London Heathrow fleets are and why Mixed Fleet was introduced.
The ‘Old’ Fleets
In the past British Airways separated it’s Cabin Crew into two fleets: Euro Fleet and Worldwide Fleet. They were, and still are, pretty self-explanatory. If you work for Euro Fleet you operate European flights and if you work for the Worldwide fleet you do long-haul flights. This appeared to work pretty well and I’m not aware of any major issues with this system.
However, staff at British Airways have a very powerful union and over the years there were a number of negotiations to increase terms and conditions between the top staff at British Airways and the union (United). When these negotiations broke down it often resulted in stroke action.
I’m 31 and I only just remember these strikes, which is why I made the assumption that younger people probably aren’t familiar with this part of British Airways’ history.
Anyway, these strikes has devastating effects on the airline. They were losing a lot of customers and a lot of money.
In order to limit the impacts of these strikes British Airways would agree to an improvement in terms and conditions. Over the years salaries inflated to significantly more than the industry average and on average staff were working considerably less hours each month than their colleagues flying for the competitor airlines.
Because staff were on such rewarding contracts they became reluctant to leave the airline and staff turnover was low. Whilst low staff turnover is often a good thing for businesses, some Cabin Crew grew fed up or tired of the job but continued to work for British Airways in order to reap the rewards of being on a good contract. This was impacting the image of the airline and the customer service provided. Note- I am not referring to ALL crew- this is a generalisation.
The ‘New’ Mixed Fleet
British Airways had to do something to remain competitive (and to stay afloat!) but they couldn’t change the terms and conditions of their existing staff- that would be illegal in many cases and definitely immoral. So the answer was to create a new fleet, which they called Mixed Fleet (the ones who wear the hats).
The name says it all- if you work for Mixed Fleet you operate a mixture of European and long-haul flights. Staff were recruited on terms and conditions far inferior to their Euro Fleet and Worldwide Fleet colleagues. By paying members of the new fleet a fraction of the salary and making them work twice as hard, British Airways were able to save a lot of money and to become more competitive in the market.
This unfortunately created some hostility between the ‘old’ and the ‘new’ fleets. The intention was, and still is, to let the old fleets gradually die out. As Cabin Crew from the old fleets resign they are replaced by Cabin Crew who join Mixed Fleet. With this brought the reduction in routes for the ‘old’ Cabin Crew, with them all being moved gradually over to the ‘new’ Mixed Fleet.
Mixed Fleet tend to be younger in age and often have a lot of energy and enthusiasm. But due to low salaries the staff turnover is high. Many staff report that their salary is in actual fact lower than that advertised by British Airways on recruitment and therefore struggle financially. What’s more is that people are being promoted at a very young age and although they may have passed all of the required exams etc, some people are concerned that they can sometimes lack experience and maturity.
So that’s my brief breakdown of what British Airways Mixed Fleet is and why it came about. Do you have any experience with British Airways Mixed Fleet? Please leave your comments below!
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