BRITISH Airways has announced it will base its short-haul flight cabin crew in Madrid in a bid to avoid staff shortages that brought travel chaos in the run up to Easter.
The UK flag carrier said it will open a hub in Madrid so it can hire cabin crew locally with a view to avoiding the mass cancellations that occurred as travel resumed after pandemic restrictions.
Thousands of travellers suffered flight cancellations over the busy Easter holidays as airlines struggled with staffing issues caused by Covid absences and delays in recruitment processes.
The disruptions came at a crucial time as the industry entered one of the first major holiday periods since the easing of pandemic travel restrictions.
British Airways cancelled 1,400 flights since the start of April, according to flight data provider Cirium.
It will be the first cabin crew hub outside the UK in Europe for British Airways, although the airline has had outposts in long-haul destinations such as Hong Kong to recruit locals who speak the language.
The move to base cabin crew in Spain is likely to be met with opposition from trade unions as workers would be subject to Spain’s minimum wage which at €7.55 an hour works out about over £3 less than the £9.50 minimal wage payable to workers in Britain.
A spokesman for British Airways said: “We are looking at a range of temporary options to ensure we can support our customers this summer as we ramp our operation back up.”
It will be the first cabin crew hub outside the UK in Europe, although BA has had small outposts in long-haul destinations such as Hong Kong so that flights can be part-staffed by locally-speaking cabin crew.
BA already has strong links with Madrid since the merger with Iberia back in 2010 saw the formation of International Airlines Group (IAG).