Nearly all British Airways flights cancelled amid two-day strike
British Airways (BA) pilots went on a 48-hour strike on Monday in an ongoing dispute over pay and conditions. As a result, the airline grounded nearly all of its flights in what is reportedly the biggest strike in the airline's 100-year long history. According to reports, this first-ever strike by the BA pilots is expected to disrupt travel plans of nearly 3,00,000 people.
What is the strike all about?
The British Airways and the British Airline Pilots' Association (BALPA) have been discussing a new pay proposal since November last year. However, the BALPA had rejected the 11.5% raise offered by BA, which would have taken their pay package to £200,000 a year. BA then emailed their 4,300 pilots, threatening against strike action, which they said would be a "serious breach" of contract.
After no response from BA, BALPA went on strike
BALPA said, "We put forward a proposal to BA management last Wednesday that would have enabled us to call off the strikes for Monday and Tuesday. BA didn't reply." Hence, around 4,000 pilots went on strike, following which, BA had "no option but to cancel nearly 100% of flights." Reportedly, BA operates 850 round-trip flights daily and a vast majority of them were canceled.
One day of strike action will cost BA £40m: BALPA
On the eve of the strike, BALPA General Secretary Brian Strutton noted, "This strike will have cost the company considerably more than the investment needed to settle this dispute." BALPA also tweeted, "One day of strike action will cost BA, on their own figures, £40m. The difference between us now is £5m. Why won't they work with us to end this dispute?"
We're ready and willing to hold talks with BALPA: BA
BA responded, "We understand the frustration and disruption BALPA's strike action has caused our customers." The airline added, "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." Reportedly, Prime Minister Boris Johnson's spokeswoman has also urged both sides to end the dispute.
Another strike scheduled for September 27
As both sides are due to get back on the negotiating table, tens of thousands of passengers have been told not to go to airports. If BA and BALPA fail to reach an agreement, another day of industrial action is scheduled for September 27.
Meanwhile, UK's Civil Aviation Authority is investigating BA
Separately, the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is also investigating BA for wrongly telling passengers that their flights had been canceled. CAA also reminded BA to inform their customers about their rights amid the strike, which include reimbursement for canceled flights and alternate travel arrangements under comparable conditions or an altogether new flight scheduled at a later date.