Almost all British Airways flights have been grounded this morning as pilots began a two-day strike action.
Members of the British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa) working for BA have staged the mass walkout in a row over pay, with another strike planned for 27 September.
In a statement this morning, BA said it had been forced to cancel “almost 100 per cent” of its flights, as it did not know which pilots would be striking. BA Cityflyer services from London City Airport remain unaffected.
“We understand the frustration and disruption Balpa’s strike action has caused our customers,” the airline said.
“After many months of trying to resolve the pay dispute, we are extremely sorry that it has come to this. We remain ready and willing to return to talks with Balpa.”
Shares in BA parent company IAG dropped almost three per cent in early trading.
Balpa has also called for a resumption of negotiations, after previous talks broke down. However, the union may enact its strike action at short notice any time in the next six months, meaning the dispute could continue until Christmas.
In a statement issued last night, the union vowed to stand firm in its strike action, saying pilots “will not be fobbed off” in the dispute over pay and benefits.
“[The pilots have] previously taken big pay cuts to help the company through hard times,” said Balpa general secretary Brian Strutton.
“Now BA is making billions of pounds of profit, its pilots have made a fair, reasonable and affordable claim for pay and benefits.”
BA said it is offering affected customers a full refund or the option to rebook on an alternative flight.
The strike action will come as a further blow to IAG, which has suffered a share price drop of almost 30 per cent since the beginning of the year.
The two-day walkout this week will reportedly cost BA roughly £100m in lost income and extra costs.
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