BA flights continue to be affected despite end of pilots strike

By Alan Jones, PA Industrial Correspondent

British Airways flights will continue to be disrupted on Wednesday, despite the end of a 48-hour strike by pilots in a dispute over pay.

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, affecting 195,000 passengers.

The union is planning a further 24-hour strike on September 27, unless the deadlocked row is resolved.

BA said it would take some time to get back to a completely normal flight schedule, because of the nature of its complex global operation.

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.”

On the likely impact on Wednesday, 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.”

Balpa said the strike cost BA £40 million a day.

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.

Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport on the first day of the strike (PA)

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.”

Adam French, Consumer Rights Expert at Which?, said: “Following BA’s abysmal handling of this recent disruption, the knock-on effect of these strikes will come as a blow for passengers who may now have their flights disrupted at short notice.

“BA must ensure it is proactively informing passengers of their rights to claim compensation of as much as £536 and reasonable out of pocket expenses, as well as offering them alternative flights or refunds when appropriate.”