x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Five Dubai flights lost to British Airways strike

Hundreds of passengers affected as talks between airline bosses and union continue.

DUBAI // Hundreds of passengers will have to make alternative travel arrangements after British Airways announced yesterday that five flights to or from Dubai would be cancelled as a result of a strike by cabin crew. BA105 from London Heathrow to Dubai, scheduled to leave at 8.40pm, will not fly today, tomorrow or Monday.

BA104, the 11am flight from Dubai to Heathrow, will not operate on Monday and Tuesday. No flights to or from Abu Dhabi have been affected. The announcement came as talks continued between the airline and Unite, the cabin crew union, in an attempt to resolve the dispute over pay and staffing levels. BA refused to say how many passengers in the region had been affected. The aircraft on the cancelled flights were Boeing 767-300s, each capable of seating 192 passengers.

The airline said most passengers had been rebooked onto alternative flights or re-routed. The rest will be entitled to a full refund. A spokesman said: "We have 30 BA planes going in and out of the UAE every day. Where possible, we have been contacting customers directly by e-mail or telephone to tell them of the situation. "It is unlikely they will turn up to the airport expecting to fly. Worldwide, 65 per cent of passengers have been rescheduled and in this region it is even higher as there are so many other flights they can be rebooked onto."

Willie Walsh, BA's chief executive, was trying to broker a deal with Tony Woodley, a co-leader of Unite. The cabin crew union, which has 12,000 members, was planning to strike for three days from today. The airline gave warning that, even if an agreement was reached, it would be too late to reinstate cancelled flights. Mr Walsh said the planned strike would be "a blow not only to our customers and to British Airways, but also to Britain".

Unite is planning a second four-day strike from next Saturday. It is not yet known how many UAE flights will be affected. Further information about arrangements during the strike can be found at ba.com/strike.

tyaqoob@thenational.ae