Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 20 November 2019

British Airways cancels nearly all flights as pilots strike over pay

Just 10 flights are scheduled to depart from Heathrow’s terminal 5 on Monday, with passengers advised not to travel to the airport

More than 1,600 departures and arrivals were affected by the British Airways pilot strike on Monday. Bloomberg
More than 1,600 departures and arrivals were affected by the British Airways pilot strike on Monday. Bloomberg

British Airways pilots began a 48-hour strike on Monday, grounding nearly all the airline’s flights and disrupting the plans of thousands of travellers in an unprecedented protest over an unresolved pay dispute.

The British Airline Pilots Association last month gave the airline notice of three days of strikes in September, in the first such action 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.

"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 per cent of our flights."

More than 1,600 departures and arrivals were affected by the strike.

Another strike is scheduled for September 27.

The two sides, however, said they are willing to hold further talks.

Balpa said BA should share more of its profits with its pilots.

BA has said the strike action is unjustifiable as its pay offer – a rise of 11.5 per cent spread across three years – was fair.

Thousands of customers had to seek alternative travel arrangements, and the airline was criticised over its handling of communication with passengers before the strikes.

"We hope we can find a way of resolving this dispute. We've been trying very hard to do so for the best part of nine months now but here we are now sadly having to take industrial action," Balpa general secretary Brian Strutton told BBC radio.

He said they were willing to compromise but BA were not prepared to "budge".

The airline dismissed a new offer by Balpa last week as an "eleventh hour inflated proposal" that was not made in good faith. Balpa had said it would have called off the strikes this week if BA had engaged with the offer.

A spokeswoman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged both sides to end the dispute.

The UK's Civil Aviation Authority is investigating the airline after it enraged some travellers by wrongly telling them their flights had been cancelled.

The regulator also reminded the airline to tell customers their rights.

During the strikes, BA must offer passengers reimbursement for cancelled flights, alternate travel arrangements under comparable conditions or a new flight at a later date.

Updated: September 9, 2019 01:42 PM

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