British Airways strike grounds most flights amid fears turmoil may continue

September 10, 2019
British Airways waives the rules
Photo: Nick Morrish/British Airways.

The travel plans of almost 200,000 passengers have been plunged into chaos as a strike by pilots prompted British Airways to cancel most of its flights Monday and Tuesday.

And there are worries the heated dispute and irst ever pilot strike to hit the UK carrier is set to continue.

The strike by the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) is scheduled to be followed by another on September 27 and the union has warned further dates may be announced.

The airline said it had canceled 1700 flights scheduled over the two days.

READ: Airline freight and passenger numbers hit by Trump’s trade war.

At the center of the turmoil is a  dispute over an offer by British Airways for an 11.5 percent salary increase over three years at a time the airline is posting healthy profits.

The pilots want a bigger share of those profits after giving concessions such as pay cuts  in harder times

BALPA said almost 100 percent of pilots supported the strike action and the strength of feeling amongst pilots should be a wake-up call for British Airways.

It said there were currently no further negotiations, despite an offer to hold talks last week

“Pilots are standing firm and have shown just how resolute they are today,’’ BALPA general secretary Barry Strutton said.

“British Airways needs to start listening to its pilots and actually come up with ways of resolving this dispute.”

Strutton had earlier told the BBC that a  union profit-sharing proposal would see staff receive up to 7 percent of base pay in good times and zero when times were tough.

The union argues the difference between its plan and that proposed by the airline amounts to an additional £5 million.

BA labeled the strike action “unjustifiable” and “reckless”, saying labor unions representing 90 percent of all BA staff had accepted the 11.5 percent offer.

It described its offer as “very fair and well above the UK’s current rate of inflations”, noting the average salary for a BA captain was £167,000 [$US206,000] plus flying allowances. The increase would take this to £202,000,  it said.

“We continue to pursue every avenue to find a solution to avoid industrial action and protect our customers’ travel plans,’’ the airline said.