Almost 195,000 passengers had their travel plans plunged into chaos after pilots went on a two-day strike for the first time in the British flag-carrier’s 100 year history, on Monday.
Members of the British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa) said its members strongly supported the walkout, which caused the cancellation of more than 1,700 flights over the two days.
But passengers can expect yet more delays and confusion when the strike ends on Wednesday after BA said almost half the airline’s fleet are in the wrong place.
British Airways has had to cancel nearly 100 per cent of its flights at London Heathrow , leaving terminals (like Heathrow Terminal 5, pictured) deserted
An image taken from FlightRadar24 today shows no British Airways flights worldwide. Only a couple of flights were scheduled to take off from Gatwick and Heathrow yesterday
An empty lounge at Heathrow Terminal Five on Monday morning after the strike action got underway
A spokesman said: ‘We are very sorry for the disruption Balpa’s industrial action has caused our customers.
‘We are doing everything we can to get back to normal and to get our customers to their destinations.’
How BA passengers could face more chaos over Christmas
British Airways passengers could face more pilot strikes over Christmas as part of a long-term campaign of chaos over pay.
The Balpa union said that BA’s failure to meet its demands during the long-running dispute could lead to a ‘damaging escalation’.
Balpa said its members – including captains paid an average of £167,000 – are prepared to take part in further strikes until its mandate for action ends in January.
With another strike already scheduled for September 27, Balpa said yesterday: ‘Our ballot allows us to take action at any time.’
Higher-earning pilots have reportedly discussed sustaining months of industrial action by crowd-funding among themselves to help less senior members.
Strikes during the hectic Christmas holiday period would be hugely problematic for the airline.
On the likely impact today, BA said: ‘Due to the union’s strike action, nearly half of our fleet of over 300 aircraft and more than 700 pilots will start the day in the wrong place.
‘In addition, more than 4,000 cabin crew have had disruption to their rosters, and in many cases will be unable to operate again for several days due to legal rest requirements.
‘Every single flight movement also has to factor in detailed planning, including engineering checks, maintenance, catering, fuelling, baggage loading, cargo and cleaning.’
On Tuesday, planes were grounded for yet another day, with only a few BA flights scheduled from Gatwick and Heathrow.
Long-haul flights are set to resume to places like Dubai and New York after midnight, when the strike action ends.
The union is still planning a further 24-hour strike on September 27, unless the deadlocked row is resolved.
Balpa said the strike cost BA £40 million a day.
Striking pilots are also counting the cost after being stripped of their staff travel perks for the next three years, it has emerged.
Cockpit crew have reportedly lost access to the 90 per cent discount on any flight which will also hit their family and friends who benefited from the deal.
They will also not be able to use ‘hotline bookings’ which confirmed flights at a discount, in a move that will cost them tens of thousands of pounds.
The Arrivals Hall in Terminal Five at Heathrow Airport, London, on day one of the first-ever strike by British Airways pilots
British Airways planes parked at the Engineering Base at Heathrow Airport yesterday morning
The hardest hit will be crew who live overseas and use the perks to commute to work from Heathrow or Gatwick.
What travel perks to BA pilots get?
All BA staff benefit from ‘Fly the World’ staff travel.
The BA website explains that from day one staff can purchase discounted commercial tickets, known as ‘Hotline’ tickets, used for staff or for friends and family.
After what BA describes as a ‘qualifying period’ staff will be eligible for unlimited standby and premium standby fares on the full BA network and other partner airlines.
Some of the discounts can be up to 90 per cent.
After five years staff are eligible to one concession per yer for them and their friends and families, they just have to pay taxes and charges.
In the ongoing dispute BA has offered a pay rise of 11.5% over three years, which it says would boost the pay of some captains to £200,000, but Balpa says its members want a bigger share of the company’s profits.
BA spent weeks offering refunds to passengers or the option to rebook on another date of travel or an alternative airline.
Both sides have said they want to resume talks, but there is little sign of the deadlock being broken.
Balpa said the strikes had been a ‘powerful demonstration’ of the strength of feeling of BA pilots, and urged the airline to return to the negotiating table with some ‘meaningful proposals’ to try to avert the next scheduled strike.
A union statement said: ‘Should British Airways refuse meaningful negotiations, further strike dates will be considered by the Balpa national executive team.’
General secretary Brian Strutton said: ‘Surely any reasonable employer would listen to such a clear message, stop threatening and bullying, and start working towards finding a solution.’
Why have BA pilots gone on strike?
British Airways has cancelled most of its flights because of the first ever strike by its pilots.
Q: Who is on strike?
A: Members of the British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa), which represents the majority of BA pilots.
Q: What is the dispute about?
A: Pay. Balpa says its members want more of a share of BA’s profits.
Q: How much have they been offered?
A: BA has offered a pay rise of 11.5% over three years, which has been accepted by unions representing other BA workers.
Q: How many flights have been cancelled because of the strike?
A: BA said more than 1,700 flights were being cancelled on Monday and Tuesday.
Q: How many passengers have been affected?
A: Around 195,000 people would have flown with BA over the two days.
Q: Has BA been receiving many calls from passengers?
A: BA says it has expanded its customer relations teams since the strike dates were announced last month, and has received 111,000 tweets and almost 400,000 calls a day.
Q: What alternative arrangements has BA been making?
A: Tens of thousands of people have had refunds or rebooked flights with BA or with other airlines.
Q: Are any more strikes planned?
A: Balpa has announced a 24-hour stoppage on September 27 if the dispute remains unresolved.
Q: How much do BA pilots earn?
A: BA says its pay offer will take some captains to more than £200,000 a year after three years. Balpa says £100,000 is a more typical basic wage.
Q: Are any talks planned between the two sides?
A: Not at the moment. Meetings have been held in recent weeks but they failed to break the deadlock.
Q: Are industrial relations at BA in a bad state?
A: There have been disputes over the years, but relations had been good until the pilots’ row flared.
Q: How much are the strikes costing BA?
A: Balpa says each day costs BA £40 million, claiming that settling the dispute would cost £5 million.