STRIKE action by BA pilots could last until Christmas as up 280,000 passengers have been told to stay away ahead of the biggest walkout in its history.
The airline’s 1700 scheduled daily flights across the globe have been axed as members of the British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) begin a strike tomorrow over pay and conditions.
The strike will last until Tuesday with further walkout planned on September 27.
But Balpa says it has a mandate from BA pilots to take strike action – with two weeks notice – at any time within a six-month window.
The wealthiest pilots at the airline – where a senior captain can earn £167,000 – are reportedly contributing to an unofficial strike fun to keep the dispute going.
Most passengers have been transferred to other services though one elderly passenger as been left stranded in Canada by the dispute.
The 75-year-old woman’s flight from Canada to Heathrow was cancelled says she was rerouted via the US.
BA strike – what you need to know
The airline says customers have been offered refunds, the chance to re-book or travel with another airline.
BA advises that you can rebook your flight for another time in the next 355 days.
If you haven’t received an e-mail telling you your flight on or around September 9 and 10 is cancelled, you may be travelling with a code share carrier such as American Airlines.
British Airways’ customers services can be reached on 0800 727 800 for passengers who booked directly with the airline.
Travellers on CityFlyer routes, as well as SUN-AIR and Comair flights will not be affected.
But she says she wasn’t told she needed to apply for an American Esta – the online permit required even for transit passengers.
“I’m a 75-year-old stranded in Victoria, BC. Flight tomorrow cancelled due to the BA strike,” she tweeted Air Canada in plea for help.
“BA rebooked me Victoria-Seattle-LHR but didn’t explain I needed a US visa to transit via Seattle.
“Refused boarding at Victoria today, now stranded. Can you help get me home?”
The initial two day strike us is expected to cost British Airways around £100m in lost revenue and additional costs.
BA pilots have previously rejected a pay increase worth 11.5 per cent over three years, which was proposed by the airline in July.
BALPA members argue they have taken lower pay rises and made sacrifices to help British Airways overcome its financial difficulties and want a reward now it made a pre-tax profit of £2 billion in 2018.
“They’ve previously taken big pay cuts to help the company through hard times,” said 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.”
British Airways has accused the union of making an “11th-hour inflated proposal which would cost an additional £50 million” after initially shaking hands on a deal.
A spokesperson said: “We remain ready and willing to return to talks with BALPA.”
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Meanwhile, BA’s 4,300 pilots were emailed and warned the walkout out be a “serious breach” of their employment contracts and could lose their travel perks.
Staff who’ve been at BA for more than months can buy tickets for themselves and up to three family members for ten per cent of the full fare plus taxes.
Pilots who live abroad and commute to either Heathrow or Gatwick, believed to number around 1,000, have been warned they lose their entitlement to heavily discounted flights from October 31.
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