A huge pay increase for the man in charge of a Midlands airport struggling to keep up with demand is ‘incensing’ people says a Birmingham MP. The chief executive of Birmingham AirportNick Barton, has come under fire after it was revealed he had seen his pay jump from £399,000 to £595,000, a 49 per cent rise, despite flights being cancelled and delayed as demand has surged this year.
Since coronavirus travel restrictions were dropped in March, the airport, based in Solihullhas seen a big rise in demand. But after the airport laid off 43 per cent of workers, it has struggled to recruit new ones quick enough, leading to check-in and security queuesflight cancellations and some passengers missing their flights.
The airport responded and said it pays its senior management ‘market rates’. But after receiving a £12 million Government bailout during the pandemic, the fact the CEO has received the pay increase despite the travel chaos was criticised by Edgbaston MP, Preet Gill (Lab.).
Speaking on Politics Midlands on the BBC on Sunday, Mrs Gill said: “I don’t think that [pay increase] is justified. Anybody wanting a pay increase has got to show that they are performing well.
“We have seen the long delays at the airport and of course there are lots of flights that haven’t resumed back where they were. Seven-day-a-week flights for example. I’m thinking about people that come to my constituency who say ‘I really want to get to India but there’s only one flight going to Amritsah whereas there used to be seven and now I am having to make the journey to London’.
“Is that justifiable? No it is not. When we have a cost of living crisis, people are really, really struggling and they have lost 43 per cent of staff. Actually what the chief executive needs to be doing is being at the forefront and making sure that these staff are back and people aren’t experiencing the long delays that we have seen.”
The Birmingham Airport’s boss was compared to the chief executive of Heathrow, the UK’s largest airport whose pay rose 85 per cent to £1,499,703 or the chief executive of Manchester Airport group, which also includes Stansted and East Midlands Airport whose pay rose 35 per cent to £2,500,000.
The Edgbaston MP said: “I have to argue pay has to be in line with your performance. The fact of the matter is public sector workers who have been at the fore during the Covid pandemic, since it haven’t seen no pay increase. This is just incensing people to see those that are at the top benefitting from the pandemic. And actually it is the workers that are paying the price.”
The airport said it expects to have enough staff to be back to 95 per cent of its pre-Covid capacity ‘by the end of July’. It has previously told BirminghamLive new security staff will start ‘early next month’. A Birmingham Airport spokesperson said: “We have now hired the additional security officers we need. Once trained and vetted, they are being deployed.”