STRIKING pilots were today stripped of their staff travel concessions for three years by defiant British Airways bosses.
Stunned cockpit crew were reeling after the rumoured threat became a reality, costing them tens of thousands of pounds.
Pilots have lost access to paying just 10% of unlimited global air fares.
The revelation came as The Sun can reveal the Balpa union today arranged a ‘picket line’ for pilots backing 48-hour industrial action over pay at a £1,150-a-year golf club.
The luxury Stockley Park club near Heathrow hosted cockpit crew who were offered dedicated sessions with a financial advisor to discuss their tax returns and pensions.
One aviation source said: “It’s a different look for the pilots to the standard placard-waving picket line protestors demanding a living wage around a brazier fire.
“The pilots are moaning about their £200,000 a year pay offer from an 18-hole championship course.
“BA’s actions in axing their mega perks will have put the pilots off their golf swing. No-one thought bosses would go through with such an incendiary move.
‘REFUSING TO BACK DOWN’
“BA has stuck two-fingers up at the Balpa union. Officials were expecting the airline to be seeking reconciliation, but instead this is BA refusing to back down.
“Bosses have drawn a line in the sand and are telling its pilots to sit up and take notice at the whopping pay offer they are throwing away.”
The loss of pilots’ 90% discount on any flight – when traveling on standby, without prior reservations – also hits their family and pals who were in on the deal.
Pilots have also waved goodbye for three years to ‘hotline bookings’ – confirmed flights at a discount.
Hardest hit will be the scores of cockpit crew who live overseas and use the perks to commute to work from Heathrow or Gatwick.
The Sun can reveal that six of the mega-rich 13 Balpa union board members who ordered the crippling pilots’ strike live abroad.
FURTHER STRIKES PLANNED
They are so rich they can afford to fly to London, often paying to overnight in a hotel, from homes in Ireland, Spain and France before starting work flying duties.
Militant union negotiator newlywed Mark Keane, who backed strikes in previous roles with Ryanair and Norweigan Air, lives in Dublin.
BA and the pilot union leaders originally agreed a deal, before the Balpa men reneged and called a strike.
A senior source said: “Balpa reps beneath the board-level negotiators don’t even know what happened.
The top tier haven’t explained why they changed their mind. “In effect, the pilots don’t know why they are on strike.”
More than 3,000 Balpa members who fly for BA – including captains now paid an average of £167,000 – have rejected an 11.5 per cent pay rise over three years plus a one-off cash payment.
The deal was accepted by staff across the Unite and GMB unions. The offer rejected by Balpa would send pilots’ average pay upwards of £200,000 per year.
BA’s pilots are less worried about the pay deal than the pending loss of a secret bonus scheme they have enjoyed for the last nine years.
Early last month BA failed in a legal attempt to block industrial action. Nearly 200,000 flyers have been hit by the two-day strike and the cancellation of 1,700 flights.
Photos showed normally choc-a-bloc Terminal 5 at Heathrow eerily quiet.
Another walkout is staged for September 27 and further strikes will be called – potentially hitting half-term holidays and the Christmas getaway.
Balpa also wants to wreck BA’s 100th anniversary celebrations.
‘NEVER FLY WITH BA AGAIN’
One unhappy passenger hit out on Twitter: “Should be flying to Mexico this morning to start out 14 day holiday, instead flying on Wednesday but have lost two days off our holiday and you’re not going to compensate for the lost two days.
“Absolutely disgraceful, I will never fly with BA again!!”
Another added of BA: “You’re a disgrace. My daughter (23 weeks pregnant) and husband stuck in LA and having to sort out their own return flights. Your phone lines are constantly on hold.”
Asked about revoking staff travel for striking pilots, BA – facing £40million a day strike costs – told The Sun: “We make no apology for doing everything we can to protect our customers from further disruption.
“Our pilot community have been made aware of the non-contractual benefits that they will forfeit as a consequence of their action.”
The Sun exclusively revealed how Brian Strutton, Balpa’s £141,000-a-year general secretary, embarked on a Mediterranean cruise with his wife while the travel plans of thousands were in disarray.
BARBIE'S THE NEW AIR HEAD
By Daniel Jones
BARBIE is being used to encourage girls to become pilots and aircraft engineers.
Special versions of the doll are being produced in a tie-up with Virgin Atlantic.
One wears a pilot’s uniform, top left, while the engineer has safety boots and headphones.
A cabin crew doll is in Virgin red, top right. The company also plans school visits.
The Women’s Engineering Society said: “This will help normalise seeing women in these vital roles.”
MOST READ IN UK NEWS
He said: “British Airways needs to wake up and realise its pilots are determined to be heard.
“They’ve 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 company’s leaders, who themselves are paid huge salaries and have generous benefits packages, won’t listen, are refusing to negotiate and are putting profits before the needs of passengers and staff.”
THE SUN SAYS
THE strikes crippling BA are an outrage.
Tens of thousands of holidays and business trips wrecked through greed.
It’s not just the £40million a day it costs BA. It is the damage to its reputation: an airline at the mercy of union bullies.
Most BA pilots have pay packages others only dream of. But their militant union Balpa rejected an inflation-busting rise far less well-paid staff accepted.
Rich pilots wrecking ordinary people’s holidays through avarice? We cannot imagine a less popular cause.
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