Pilots working with the British Airways on Monday started a two-day strike due to an ongoing dispute over pay, BBC reported. Passengers were asked not to go to the airport if their flights were cancelled as the airline apologised for the inconvenience caused to them and said it was ready to restart talks with the protesting pilots.
A number of British Airways flights, taking off from the United Kingdom on Monday and Tuesday, were cancelled while uncertainty prevailed for more such cancellations in the coming days. “We understand the frustration and disruption BALPA [British Airline Pilots Association] strike action has caused our customers,” the airline’s statement said. “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.”
The airline said it was forced to cancel nearly all its flights as it had no detail from the pilots’ association about how many of the staff would participate in the strike. The association’s General Secretary Brian Sutton said that it was time to “get back to the negotiating table” and come up with an agreement to end the dispute.
Around 4,000 pilots are expected to participate in the strike and nearly all of the airline’s 1,600 flights were reportedly grounded. The pilots’ association had, last month, given British Airways a notice that they would undertake three days of industrial action, Reuters reported. After the strikes on Monday and Tuesday, the pilots will also strike on September 27.
The association said that the airline should share more of its profits with its pilots. The airline, however, called the strike action unjustifiable as its pay was fair. The British Airways also dismissed an offer last week, saying that it was an “eleventh hour inflated proposal”.
In July, pilots had rejected the airline’s offer to increase pay by 11.5% over three years. The association said that its members had taken lower pay rise and made sacrifices during difficult times for the British Airways. They said the airline’s financial gains had improved so they should get a share of the profits. Last year, British Airways’ parent company International Airlines Group had reported a 9% increase in profits.
Meanwhile, the United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority were also looking into allegations of passengers, who were incorrectly told that their flights had been cancelled. The regulator also asked the airline to remind customers that they were eligible for reimbursements for cancelled flights, alternative travel arrangements in comparable situations, or get another flight at a different date. A spokesperson for Prime Minister Boris Johnson appealed to both the parties to end the conflict.
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