Birmingham Airport chief executive gets 49% pay rise

By Simon Gilbert
BBC CWR Political reporter

  • Published
Nick Barton
Image caption,
Nick Barton's salary has been increased to £595,000

The chief executive of Birmingham Airport's pay has risen by 49% pay rise, it has emerged, angering trade unions.

Nick Barton's annual wage increased from £399,000 to £595,000 last year.

It came after large-scale job cuts in the sector in the wake of the pandemic.

Jane Nellist, president of Coventry Trade Union Council, said the pay was "absolutely disgraceful" but airport board member John McNicholas said it was "paying the appropriate rate".

Staff shortages, among security staff in particular, have caused major issues for travellers at Birmingham Airport which received £12.8m of public money from the government to support it during the Covid pandemic.

It also laid off 43% of its staff during the period, when the business was forced to virtually shut down. It has been seeking to fill gaps as demand for travel returns.

Image caption,
Trade unionist Jane Nellist said the pay rise would anger "millions of workers"

Ms Nellist said Mr Barton's pay rise would make "millions of workers angry" and was "yet another example of workers being told to tighten their belts, while the fat cats take the cream".

She said with inflation rising, workers were equally in need of better pay, adding: "If they want a pay rise it should be equal - we should all get a pay rise."

News of the pay rise has emerged as rail and other workers have been taking strike action in a bid to secure better deals.

The airport is part-owned by a number of councils in the region, including Coventry City Council, and Ms Nellist said it was wrong to pay the airport chief executive more at a time when local authorities were being forced to make cuts.

Image source, Rebecca Young/PA Media
Image caption,
Holidaymakers have been facing long queues at Birmingham Airport

Birmingham Airport said it hoped to be back to full staffing levels by August, and explained: "We pay our senior management in line with market rates."

Heathrow's chief executive received an annual salary increase of 85% to almost £1.5m a year in 2021, and the boss at Manchester Airport Group had a pay rise of 25% to £2.5m.

Mr McNicholas, who also sits on Coventry City Council, described Mr Barton as "a very dynamic person, full of great ideas" and as "someone absolutely perfect for Birmingham Airport".

He said: "It is paying the appropriate rate and while it may seem high for many, many people because of the current circumstance, we've also got to look to the future and ensure we have the right person in the post."

The Department for Transport said: "The aviation industry is responsible for making sure they have enough staff to meet demand, and we have been clear that they must step up recruitment to make sure disruption is kept to a minimum."

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