A British Airways plane at Heathrow T5. Photo by Stuart Bailey
British Airways intended to operate more than 90 percent of its flights today, as the carrier attempts to return to a normal schedule following the two-day strike action by BALPA, the airline's pilots union. In a statement on the BA website, the airline apologized to passengers for the disruptions caused by the strike.
"Unfortunately, with no detail from BALPA on which pilots would strike on Sept. 9 and 10, we had no way of predicting how many pilots might come to work or which aircraft they were qualified to fly," the statement reads. "We had no option but to cancel the vast majority of our flights on these dates. We are working hard to get back to normal and to get our customers to their destinations. The nature of our highly complex global operation means that it will take some time to get back to a completely normal flight schedule, so there will be a knock-on effect over the next few days."
Nearly half of the carrier's planes and more than 700 pilots were in the wrong place following the two-day strike, and some 4,000 cabin crew experienced disruptions and, in some cases, can't immediately fly again due to legal rest requirements. Maintenance, engineering, catering, fueling and baggage handling all must be rescheduled as well.
The carrier is offering full refunds to all affected customers, or the option to rebook a different travel date or on another airline. Flights on BA CityFlyer, SUN-AIR and Comair are unaffected by the strike and have continued to operate on a normal schedule.
The pilots' union notified BA of the action in late August, noting that the strikes would occur Sept. 9, 10 and 27. British Airways will be contacting passengers flying on or around the 27th as soon as possible, but the airline is somewhat optimistic that disruptions could potentially be avoided. "We remain open to talks with BALPA to resolve the dispute," notes the BA statement.
For its part, BALPA welcomes the discussion and "urges the airline back to the negotiating table with some meaningful proposals to try to avert the next scheduled strike on 27th September," according to a statement on its site. The union claims the strike has been supported by "virtually 100 percent" of BA pilots and that further strike dates will be considered if the airline refuses to negotiate.
"Surely any reasonable employer would listen to such a clear message, stop threatening and bullying, and start working toward finding a solution," said BALPA general secretary Brian Strutton. The union is fighting for better pay and benefits, and claims the airline's latest offer isn't a meaningful increase in light of the pay cuts pilots absorbed in the years following the global financial crisis.