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The way we run our business

The workplace

We introduced a Building Ability strategy to identify and promote the needs of disabled customers and colleagues. We constantly look at how we can improve the journey experience for disabled customers and for the first time we conducted specific customer research to identify areas for development. In July 2008, 522 members of the British Paralympics Association travelled to Beijing for the Paralympic Games, providing us with important lessons we can translate into day-to-day practice.

Overall, our Dignity at Work strategy involves training, communications and workshops across the business. All departments have targets to achieve and all employees must now complete the online ‘Expect Respect’ training course, introduced during the year.


We saw a modest improvement in attendance throughout the year. The headline annual absence level has improved by one day per person. At December 2008 it stood at 10.8 average days per person per annum, with some areas of the business meeting top quartile absence levels. While there has been a modest improvement overall this year, we still compare unfavourably with similar sized businesses in the UK. To remedy this we are creating a new programme to help managers deal with attendance issues.

Absences – days per person per annum

December 2008 10.8
January 2008 11.7
2003 baseline 16.7

Employee relations

We negotiate with a total of three trade unions representing colleagues across the business. We seek to work constructively with colleagues and their representatives to improve productivity and performance.

Despite the challenges we faced in the early days of Terminal 5, we went on during the year to achieve significant improvements in our operational performance. This was partly down to the agreements we reached for new working practices at the terminal. A major feature of these agreements was direct colleague engagement with the involvement of our recognised trade unions. Another key aspect was the introduction of local incentive plans for many terminal-based jobs as discussed above.

We continue to work hard to foster good relations with the representatives of our flying community. These relationships will remain key as we tackle the challenges ahead.

We carried out consultations with a number of groups within the business to see where we could improve efficiency and this has led to some beneficial changes in work practices and roles. The areas affected by restructuring included:

  • Customer relations;
  • Gatwick ramp and customer services;
  • British Airways World Cargo;
  • Glasgow cabin crew base; and
  • Manchester engineering base.

During the year we fundamentally changed the way we organise our human resources (HR) management. We introduced HR Business Partners who now focus on good people management and employee relations and are responsible for day-to-day industrial relations matters. The central industrial relations team was consequently scaled back and given a more strategic role. To support this change we ran a number of bespoke industrial relations training courses to improve understanding and practice.

Chart of total employees, senior managers and managers

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