British Airways grounds flights as pilots go on strike
British Airways has had to cancel almost all of its flights as its pilots began a 48-strike over inadequate pay.
Alistair Smout and Michael Holden had the news for Reuters:
British Airways pilots began a 48-hour strike on Monday, grounding nearly all its flights and disrupting the plans of thousands travelers in unprecedented industrial action over a pay dispute.
The British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) last month gave the airline notice of three days of industrial action in September, in the first ever strike by BA pilots.
“We understand the frustration and disruption BALPA’s strike action has caused our customers. After many months of trying to resolve the pay dispute, we are extremely sorry that it has come to this,” BA said in a statement.
“Unfortunately, with no detail from BALPA on which pilots would strike, we had no way of predicting how many would come to work or which aircraft they are qualified to fly, so we had no option but to cancel nearly 100% of our flights.”
AP’s Gregory Katz noted the strike was unprecedented:
In a statement Monday, the airline said it had “no way of predicting how many (pilots) would come to work or which aircraft they are qualified to fly.”
As a result, it said it had “no option but to cancel nearly 100%” of its flights.
BA said it stands ready to return to talks with pilots’ union Balpa and that it is offering affected customers full refunds or the option to rebook.
BA says it has offered pilots a pay rise of 11.5% over three years but the union says its members want a bigger share of the company’s profits.
The union accuses BA of making massive profits at the expense of workers who made sacrifices during hard times. A further strike is penciled in for Sept. 27.
Union leader Brian Strutton said pilots are determined to be heard.
“They’ve previously taken big pay cuts to help the company through hard times. Now BA is making billions of pounds of profit, its pilots have made a fair, reasonable and affordable claim for pay and benefits.”
BA operates up to 850 flights a day. The company said it understands the frustration of passengers affected by the strike.
London’s sprawling Heathrow Airport will be the most impacted by the work stoppage as it is BA’s major hub and used for many of the company’s long-haul international flights.
Jamie Johnson from The Daily Telegraph reported the airline had warned passengers to not go to airports for their scheduled flights:
British Airways has told its passengers not to turn up at airports as the biggest strike action in the airline’s 100 year history begins today.
More than 1,500 flights have been cancelled as the company was accused of bullying its own staff by union bosses, who warned they could continue the action until the end of the year.
BALPA says that BA “has resorted to breaking agreements and threatening pilots who will strike, which is bound to make matters worse” after they emailed their 4,300 pilots on Friday warning that strike action would be a ‘serious breach’ of their contract.The airline further threatened to withdraw a travel perk, where staff can book tickets for ten per cent of the full fare plus taxes, for three years if they chose to strike.
BALPA branded the airline’s behaviour “illogical and irresponsible” and “will further deepen the fall out with their pilots.”