British Airways Just Fired All Its Hong Kong-Based Flight Attendants

Five of the ten highest grossing revenue airline routes in the world involve London Heathrow, but only one belongs to British Airways. That’s London Heathrow – New York JFK. Where British Airways competes against Asian or Middle Eastern carriers, BA loses.

Although London and Hong Kong are two of the most premium traffic heavy cities in the world, British Airways recently disclosed that their London – Hong Kong twice daily service lags in performance. They’ve pointed out that it suffers in comparison to Cathay Pacific’s (better, more frequent) flights.

Parent company International Airlines Group (IAG) had highlighted BA’s Hong Kong to Heathrow service as an underperforming route at its half-year financial earnings meeting with analysts.

Chief financial officer Enrique Dupuy de Lome singled out Hong Kong as Cathay Pacific, which flies five times a day to Heathrow, was having an adverse affect on revenue.

British Airways Business Class

Cathay Pacific Business Class

British Airways is closing its Hong Kong crew base at the end of October. And today they’ve pink slipped all 85 Hong Kong-based flight attendants. Most were laid off effective immediately, while a couple of dozen are being permitted to finish their contracts which expire next month.

Staff were notified yesterday to report to a meeting today. They were given termination letters at the meeting. They reportedly have until Saturday to accept severance terms or will be paid the Hong Kong legal minimum.

Here’s the memo:

With only two of nine daily flights between the cities (Virgin Atlantic flies once daily as well) and the worst business class product in the market it’s not surprising that performance would lag.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. British Airways is lousy. Maybe they should upgrade their seats and service instead of firing all their HK based flight attendants. I would never choose BA given a choice of other Asian carriers.

  2. British Airways is lousy. Maybe they should upgrade their seats and service instead of firing all their HK based flight attendants. I would never choose BA given a choice of other American or European carriers.

  3. As failure in the market after a long-term presence usually is attributed to how “the fish rots from the head,” to what extent has executive management at BA ignored their unfavorable position due to its extremely total crap business class. How many want to look at the feet of somebody else in that horrible seating arrangement?

    In parallel, certainly BA could not compete with its pathetic catering. So, where in this obvious failure in market positioning did the HK based-staff fit in and contribute to the collapse of BA here? Interesting how they work by contract and do not have a union to protect them as in the UK.

    Perhaps this should be a wake-up call for the legacy US3 who also would be last on anybody’s list, compared to the excellent Asian and European carriers.

  4. Mark and John are the same person?

    I hope they are at least transporting them home (if they live in HK) since they terminated with no notice AND made them turn in ID immeditely!

  5. What a phony sounding ‘we are really sorry/not sorry by the way hand in your badge at the end of the meeting’ BS letter

    Funny to see BA treat it’s employees as bad as their customers

    This airline has become a joke

  6. Based on some of these comments, did they even read the article? What is BA (regardless of quality) supposed to do with those 85 flight attendants? Pay to relocate them to a different hub/country? Pay for all the paperwork, visas and work permits? They are getting a severence package, so stop talking like they were fired on the spot with no compensation. Would you keep, and keep paying your employees if your store closed? Come on people…

  7. Mark, what do you think the union does with employers? Create a contract. BA is living up to its contract with their FAs, as they will be paid wages till the end of their obligation, regardless if they’re working or not. What do you think a union can do if a hub is closed? Force BA to keep it open? SMH

  8. So, BA has an intentionally worse product, then is surprised that customers don’t prefer the worse product.

  9. @Mark I’d fly Delta over most Asian and all European airlines in both coach and business. Probably all, in fact, except SQ and CX. Depending on my flight patterns (if it were mostly domestic US travel, for instance), I would probably take Delta over SQ/CX for status reasons.

  10. RE: So, BA has an intentionally worse product, then is surprised that customers don’t prefer the worse product.

    Ding! Ding! Ding!

    Spot on! So spot on!

    Of course, those in the C-Suite at Waterside (BA’s HQ) will NEVER take responsibility for their efforts to intentionally degrade this formerly great airline, but instead are scapegoating the flight attendants based in Hong Kong.

    So, what else is new for an airline that soon will be known as “Bloody Awful” (again) – if it isn’t already?!?!

  11. @Justin
    What about EVA, JAL, ANA? Have you flown them all? I’d argue that each of these has a hard and soft product that is as good if not better than Delta in Y and J. The fact that you lump CX and SQ together tells me you do not have a broad experience with the Asian carriers since CX business is probably the worse of all of the above listed carriers.

  12. > Excellent European airlines?? Really? Give me a break

    I don’t really have any love for US carriers, but I’d fly Delta internationally over BA if I’m in economy.

  13. Wow. How off-base (no pun intended) people are here.

    First, the “crap” business class is irrelevant to their performance in HKG; the issue is frequency, just like it is in New York (which is why BA does so well, despite it’s “crappy” business class, when competing against the other carriers).

    Second, as someone asked, “What is BA supposed to do” if they” close the shop”? They’re not closing the shop, they’re firing the staff. The shop stays open, with new staff.

  14. Companies treat their people as easily disposable commodities. Unlike capital requirements (we’re talking property here) little or no thought or commitment is given to the long term needs for employees (people). Too bad the financial and personal obligations people incur in expectation of continued employment cannot be disposed of so easily.

    BA cops out. Cathay Pacific is not causing an adverse effect on revenue, it is BA’s own business decisions (frequency, product, etc.) that resulted in poor financial performance on that route.

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