Growing disquiet among BMIbaby pilots over IAG plans

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Pilots at BMIbaby and BMI Regional are growing increasingly "angry" over the handling of parent company BMI's acquisition by International Airlines Group (IAG) from Lufthansa, the British Airline Pilots' Association (BALPA) says.

Its warning comes one day after IAG chief executive Willie Walsh said he was "not confident" of finding buyers for the loss-making subsidiaries, raising expectations that the units will be shut down with the loss of 800 jobs.

Jim McAuslan, BALPA general secretary, says: "In the final days of the drawn-out sale, German-owned Lufthansa may have seen BMI pilots as peripheral, but we would expect UK-based IAG to take a different approach."

He acknowledges IAG's candour in consistently saying it will not retain the subsidiaries - which were bundled in with the mainline BMI operation after Lufthansa failed to sell them off separately - but adds that "now that they are left holding the baby they should be thinking more creatively and treating pilots as grown-ups".

BALPA's offer to collaborate strategically with prospective buyers of either subsidiary remains open, McAuslan emphasises.

IAG subsidiary BA stands to gain the most from the BMI acquisition as it will increase its share of landing slots at London Heathrow airport from 43% to 52%. The BMI brand will be axed with the loss of 1,200 mainline jobs and its aircraft will be re-painted in BA's livery, but BMIbaby and BMI Regional "will not be integrated" into IAG, Walsh said on Monday.

BA is consulting with trade unions over proposals to save the jobs of 1,100 BMI mainline cabin crew, pilots and engineers. Up to 400 passenger service jobs may also be salvaged from the mainline operation.