Scottish airline Loganair is locked in a legal dispute with pilots amid claims it treated them unfairly in the wake of the FlyBMI collapse.

Loganair took over several of the routes operated by FlyBMI and employed 145 former employees - including 80 pilots - in the wake of the closure in February last year.

The firm, which had the same parent company as FlyBMI, took on the pilots under new contracts, with new terms and conditions.

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However, pilots' union BALPA claims the transfer should have been covered by TUPE regulations, protecting important employment rights including length of service.

BALPA has now launched an employment tribunal against the airline, claiming it failed in its duty to consult with the union under TUPE legislation.

The Herald: Loganair managing director Jonathan HinklesLoganair managing director Jonathan Hinkles

The preliminary hearing, which will decide whether or not the case should proceed, heard evidence from BALPA national officer Michael Brade who told how Jonathan Hinkles, managing director of Loganair, contacted him shortly after FlyBMI entered administration.

He claimed that Mr Hinkles told him he was looking to recruit pilots and had put together a recruitment pack.

Mr Brade said: "I remember I asked Jonathan if Loganair considered that TUPE would apply to pilots joining Loganair. When I asked him this, he made it very clear to me that he did not consider TUPE would apply. He said something to the effect that I should be grateful that Loganair would be offering jobs to BALPA members at all.

"Everything Jonathan said to me on the phone suggested that Loganair had been planning this effort to recruit [FlyBMI] pilots for some time. I also think it was somewhat suspicious for him to be so quick to head off any suggestion that TUPE might apply."

He added: "BALPA considers that the evidence indicates a staged and carefully choreographed transfer of [FlyBMI's] business to Loganair."

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The tribunal heard evidence that in October 2018 - four months before FlyBMI's demise - Loganair bought spare parts and engineering equipment from FlyBMI. The firm's engineers based in Aberdeen also transferred over to Loganair at that time via a TUPE transfer.

Following the collapse, Loganair also took control of FlyBMI's take off and landing slots, although several of these were later handed back to authorities.

The Herald: Former FlyBMI pilot Chris DickFormer FlyBMI pilot Chris Dick

Former FlyBMI pilot Chris Dick, who did not receive a job with Loganair, told the tribunal that pilots were transferred over to Loganair very quickly and put to work using their FlyBMI uniforms and airside ID cards.

Mr Dick, who had to move from Bristol to Edinburgh to get a new job with Ryanair, said: "I was extremely frustrated by what happened. I consider that [FlyBMI's] business passed to Loganair and that I along with the other FlyBMI employees should have transferred to Loganair by way of TUPE transfer."

Another pilot, Gregory McKay, added that the collapse of FlyBMI placed him in an "extremely difficult position" as his wife was pregnant at the time and he did not manage to get another job for four months.

Mr Hinkles told the tribunal that despite having the same parent company, Loganair and FlyBMI "operated completely independently".

He said that prior to February 2019, Loganair was making "contingency plans" for the potential collapse of three airlines - Flybe, Eastern Airways and FlyBMI.

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The director said this was a "natural part of planning" in a "very competitive market".

He added that the employment of former FlyBMI pilots was to help with "standard Loganair business and not because of the small number of former BMI routes we began operating after the BMI insolvency". 

He also claimed that the purchase of FlyBMI equipment in October was to help the struggling company pay staff wages.

The tribunal, in Glasgow, continues.