British Airways cancels dozens of Easter holiday flights because of strikes
British Airways is to cancel dozens of flights over the Easter period because of a 10-day strike by security staff.
The airline has confirmed that around five per cent of all flights across the strike period, equating to around 16 round trips a day, will be cancelled.
The worst-hit flights will be multi-frequency short-haul flights, with BA’s long-haul services not affected.
The action comes after more than 1,500 security workers at Heathrow’s Terminal 5 are set to walk out from March 31 to April 9. British Airways is the worst affected operator as the sole provider of flights from Terminal 5.
The company also confirmed that it would be halting the sale of tickets for the first few days of action in an attempt to protect those who have already booked.
It comes after Heathrow called on airlines to stop selling tickets and offer flexible options to try to reduce the amount of footfall at the airport during the industrial action.
‘Small number of adjustments’
Heathrow has offered full refunds, or the option to book another flight with BA or another operator, to those impacted by flight cancellations. The airport said it expected the vast majority of its customers to be able to travel within 24 hours of their original flight.
A British Airways spokesman said: “Following Heathrow’s requirement for us to reduce the number of passengers travelling during the period of its employees’ proposed strike action, we’ve regrettably had to make a small number of adjustments to our schedule.
“We’ve apologised to customers whose travel plans have been affected and have offered them a range of options, including rebooking onto a new flight with us or another airline or requesting a full refund.
“Our teams are continuing to work closely with Heathrow to ensure that our customers’ journeys run smoothly.”
Last summer, staff shortages saw thousands of flights at the airport cancelled, with long delays for travellers.
It comes as negotiations between Heathrow and Unite the Union, which represents security staff, appear to have stalled, with the 10-day strike a likely prospect. Heathrow has said it is deploying an additional 1,000 extra staff to provide assistance over the period.
European strikes hitting air travel
Several strikes across Europe are having a significant impact on air travel.
On Monday, a national strike by Germany’s biggest transport unions brought the country’s transport system to halt, with hundreds of flights in and out of Germany’s main airports being cancelled.
Lufthansa, Germany’s biggest airline, warned of ‘massive disruptions” for passengers, with some flights from UK airports impacted. Strikes in France and Spain have also hit European flights in recent weeks.
In response to the Heathrow strikes, Virgin Atlantic, the airport’s second biggest domestic operator, said it would introduce a flexible ticketing policy for some existing customers, allowing them the option of booking onto another flight to avoid the strike period.
A Heathrow spokesman said: “We will not let these unnecessary strikes impact the hard-earned holidays of our passengers. Our contingency plans will keep the airport operating as normal throughout.
“We are deploying 1,000 additional colleagues and the entire management team who will be in the terminals providing assistance to passengers over the busy Easter getaway.
“As at any busy time, it may take a little longer than usual to get through security, but this will be well managed and kept flowing.”