UK flag carrier British Airways has told passengers not to head to the airport today if their flights were caught up in one of the biggest pilot strikes in its history.
Members of the Balpa pilots union working for BA will walk out tomorrow and Tuesday, with planned strike action – grounding 1700 flights – also pencilled in for Friday 27 September.
The union said 92 per cent of pilots balloted voted for strike action, which it may take at short notice at any time in the next six months, meaning the pay row could endanger Christmas season flights.
BA Cityflyer services from London City airport remain unaffected.
The vast majority of BA flights from the airline’s hubs at Heathrow and Gatwick airports have been cancelled and the airline’s passengers have made alternative arrangements, such as being rebooked on similar services or refunded.
Already today close to 50 flights have been cancelled, largely BA planed flying into London, because the carrier can’t park so many of its planes at its London bases.
Both sides of the industrial disagreement are urging the other to come back to the bargaining table in the dispute which centres on pay.
Balpa boss Brian Strutton said the union’s pilots had “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”.
The airline, owned by FTSE-listed International Consolidated Airlines Group along with Iberia and Aer Lingus, said: “We proposed an offer of 11.5 per cent over three years to Balpa, a deal already accepted by members of the Unite and GMB unions, which represent 90 per cent of British Airways’ staff, a deal which we believe is fair.”
The first two-day stoppage starting tomorrow will reportedly cost BA close to £100m in lost income and extra costs.
Main image: Getty