British Airways pilots to strike for three days in September

Simon Calder, Helen Coffey
British Airways aircraft at Heathrow Airport: EPA

British Airways pilots will strike for three days in September, the British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa) has announced.

Union members will stage a walkout on 9, 10 and 27 September after 93 per cent of those balloted voted in favour of industrial action.

Balpa said in a statement that the strike is “a last resort” but that there is “no prospect of any further meaningful talks” with the airline.

The dispute revolves around pay and working conditions. Balpa and British Airways have had several days of talks with conciliation service Acas to no avail.

The union claims that a day of strike action will cost BA around £40m, while three days will cost in the region of £120m.

“The gap between BA’s position and Balpa’s position is about £5m,” says Balpa. “Our proposal remains on the table should BA wish to reach agreement prior to strike action.”

British Airways has hit back at the union, saying in a statement: “It is completely unacceptable that Balpa is destroying the travel plans of tens of thousands of our customers with this unjustifiable strike action.”

It continued: “We are extremely sorry that after many months of negotiations, based on a very fair offer, Balpa has decided on this reckless course of action.”

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The UK flag carrier has said it is making changes to its schedule to ensure as few flights as possible are disrupted by the stoppage, using solutions like wet-leasing (using planes and crew from other airlines) and flying bigger aircraft to transport as many passengers as possible.

However, the airline admits “it is likely that many of our customers will not be able to travel” and it is offering refunds and re-bookings for passengers due to fly on cancelled flights.

The airline is offering a pay deal of 11.5 per cent increase over three years, which it claims is “very fair” and above the UK’s current rate of inflation.

In a conference call, the chief executive, Alex Cruz, said: "

We have the best workplace for pilots in the world.

“They have been very, very badly served by the union.”

He said that the

average salary of a BA captain is £167,000, and that with the deal Balpa is seeking they would be earning over £200,000 two years from now.

BA CityFlyer, SUN-AIR and Comair flights will not be affected.

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“We continue to pursue every avenue to find a solution to avoid industrial action and protect our customers’ travel plans,” BA concluded.

The announcement follows an attempt by the airline to prevent union members from striking.

BA applied to the High Court for an injunction but was unsuccessful.

The action will also affect passengers booked on days immediately before and after the strike dates, because BA will not roster staff to work if they are likely to strike while “downroute”.

In addition, when long-haul outbound flights are cancelled on strike dates, the corresponding inbound flight will also be grounded.

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