Heathrow: The World's Silliest Airport

Posted on Sep 02, 2020. by NTI

You have to be patient enough to scroll down quite a way in the news section of today's Times (Wednesday 2 September) before you reach a report about a bonny looking Matt Hancock in an unflattering pink tie announcing that a Coronavirus vaccine could be available this year, with the law changed to fast track approval before Christmas. He told the Commons that vaccine trials were going well and pharmacists, paramedics, vets and those with no clinical training could be allowed to administer a safe and effective jab to ensure that millions of people get it quickly. The "technically brilliant and independent" MHRA, an executive agency sponsored by the Department of Health and Social Care, is on the blocks ready to expedite the entry of a vaccine into Britain ...

... so how idiotic does the globe's second busiest airport look when announcing that up to 1,200 jobs are at risk, as Heathrow talks with unions stall. Reports this afternoon say the airport is preparing to axe up to 25 per cent of its frontline posts unless it agrees a revised deal with unions. Heathrow Airport informed union officials on Wednesday afternoon that it was issuing a formal section 188 notice, triggering a 45 day consultation period that could lead to compulsory job losses. Sources close to the madness said that up to 4,700 of the airport's engineers, airside operations and security staff would be included in the consultation process.

"I have a gun and I am prepared to use it on myself," an airport spokesperson said.

Why would Heathrow do this? It is clear that all of the experts have as much empirical information about our recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic as they had going into it. And let's say the vaccine isn't ready until, oh, we don't know ... say, April 2021. The world after that will be suffering from a shock to its system, but the numbers reported from the NTI newsroom this very day strongly suggest that we, as a species, are up for a resurgence once we can go into a shop without our glasses steaming up. Then we will be roaming around the planet again, be performing our various tasks again and will be heading to Heathrow for journeys around our tiny planet again.

Except that LHR will then be short of 25 per cent of the team it required to fittingly run an airport in February of this year and, in order to run it properly (presumably), they will need to go to the expense of replacing, recruiting, re-hiring and training those people, who will probably be the same people that they chuffed off six months previously. What can they be thinking?

Oh, hang on, here's a clue. When reading a report on this madness we in the NTI newsroom spotted an interesting paragraph. It said: "Britain’s biggest airport ... could fire these highly trained individuals ... after months of talks with trade unions about employee pay and conditions failed to land an agreement." How many months, Heathrow? Three, four, five? More? Is this another example of 'doing an M&S ... or a Boots ... or a John Lewis ... or a loads of others'? This is, to restructure their badly run business and force agreement to do so, blaming it not on the sunshine, or the moonlight, or the good times ... but on the virus?

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