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'WATERWORLD' AT HEATHROW TO BE SOLD...?

British Airways may sell its Heathrow headquarters as part of a post-pandemic move away from the office, a leaked company email has revealed.

The airline has appointed property consultants to consider a sale of the Waterside complex close to the airport in west London that accommodates about 2,000 workers, the Financial Times first reported.

Stuart Kennedy, the airline’s HR chief, told staff: "Many of us are based at Waterside and it’s not clear if such a large office will play a part in our future. We’ll want to consider what the ideal office layout for the future will be. Perhaps it’s less fixed desks and more casual meeting areas."

The complex would need to be demolished if a third runway is built at Heathrow, according to Willie Walsh, former chief executive of BA's owner IAG.

He said Waterside would need to be sold "tomorrow" if the Heathrow expansion went ahead, but doubted the project would ever happen.

A BA spokesman said the company was considering whether it still needed such a large headquarters building.

"The global pandemic has shown us that many of our colleagues enjoy working remotely and want to continue, and this has accelerated our approach to offering more agile and flexible ways of working," he said.

"Our aim is to find a hybrid working model that suits our business, blending the best of office and remote working for our people."

BA paid £200m for the land and construction of the complex, which was opened in 1998. On-site amenities include a hairdresser.

The airline's move comes as a string of companies consider downsizing their office footprint.

On Wednesday, outsourcer Capita said 35,000 staff would have the option to work from home permanently.

An internal survey said almost three quarters of staff wanted to move to at least flexi-working post pandemic.

Earlier this month both NatWest and Aviva opted to cut office space, with Aviva boss Amanda Blanc saying "It's going to be a lot more about collaboration rather than it is about rows of desks.”

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By Ben Gartside 19 March 2021 • TELEGRAPH

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