Although cabin and ground crew agreed to a new pay deal last year, increasingly caustic relations culminated in the first-ever pilot strike last autumn. It marred what was supposed to be a celebration – the airline’s centenary in 2019.
Then Covid hit. Targeting 10,000 job cuts, Cruz managed to convince the pilots of the severity of the situation. Getting Unite, which represents cabin and ground crew, on side proved a tougher task. Cruz was at the centre of allegations of betrayal, not just from staff but also MPs and even celebrities.
The figures don’t lie: Cruz has been successful in making BA a leaner organisation. In 2016, BA spent almost 66p for every pound of revenue it earned. Three years later it had fallen to 61p.
And remarkably, pay still went up. In 2016, employee costs totalled £2.4bn across 43,874 staff, an average salary of £55,702. In 2019, the bill was £2.5bn across 42,322 – equivalent to an average of £59,756 each.
Based on these figures Cruz has some reason to feel hard done by and may well walk away from BA wondering what might have been.
He was seen as the heir apparent at IAG with Walsh’s retirement on the horizon. But he has been outflanked, even as he was doing the Dubliner’s bidding.