Five British Airways pilots have been suspended over allegations of racist behaviour and pornographic material being distributed.
The “appalled” airliner has launched an investigation into the allegations, which include a captain repeatedly using the ‘N’ word against a fellow BA pilot with an ethnic minority background.
The allegations – which also include a pilot sending filthy images of a man having sexual intercourse with a chicken – focus on BA staff who work part-time as trade union officials for British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa).
According to Boeing 777 captain Manish Patel, 46, he was called a “P*** lad” and a “chai wallah”, the Mail on Sunday reports.
He also claims jokes were made about him working in a corner shop or as a taxi driver.
Six emails viewed by the paper reveal how Captain Brendan O’Neal, a senior union official who is also responsible for training aspiring pilots, sent a flurry of messages featuring the ‘N’ word back in 2012.
Balpa said that while it concedes there have been instances of “inappropriate emails passing among a small number of Balpa representatives”, the union is “committed to ensuring a good, modern-day work environment”.
Balpa said Mr Patel’s claims of racist language are “strenuously denied and will be robustly defended”.
In one message sent in 2012, as preparations for a Christmas pub lunch were underway, Mr O’Neal asked Mr Patel: “What food do you want n****?”
Two months before that he asked: “U on skype n****?”
While Mr Patel admitted he sent offensive emails himself, he claims he was forced to do so in order to not be left out.
Mr O’Neal has now stepped down from his position at the trade union as its executive president, Balpa said last night.
He said the allegations were ‘the subject of ongoing legal proceedings’, adding: “Whilst I would like to defend myself, in these circumstances it would be inappropriate to do so at this stage.”
A BA spokesman said: “We are appalled to learn of this behaviour which does not reflect the values of our company.”