The union that represents hundreds of pilots at British Airways has today announced its members will walk out in a dispute over pay and conditions. Strike action is set to hit the Heathrow-based airline on the 9th, 10th and 27th September.
British Airways has labelled the move “reckless” and says the BALPA union is “destroying the travel plans of tens of thousands of our customers with this unjustifiable strike action.”
In a statement posted to Twitter, the union said it had tabled several proposals to end the dispute – all of which were rejected by British Airways.
Each day of strike action could cost the airline up to £40 million. The union claims the gap between BA’s final offer and their demands is just £5 million.
“Over recent years BA pilots have made sacrifice after sacrifice to assist the company such as taking a pay cut, productivity increases, closing the final salary pension scheme, giving up annual leave days, a new rostering system, and reducing flying pay,” the union said.
“In what is British Airways’ centenary year, this will be the very first time its pilots will go on strike. They do so as a last resort and with enormous frustration at the way the business is now being run,” the statement continued.
British Airways said extensive contingency plans were already in place but admitted that thousands of passengers will likely face significant disruption.
The airline plans on bringing in ‘wetlease’ aircraft to break the strike but will also offer passengers the opportunity to reschedule or cancel their flights without penalty.
“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,” the airline said in a statement released on Friday afternoon.
Pilots had been offered an 11.5 per cent pay rise spread over three years. The same offer had already been accepted by cabin crew and ground staff.
Last month, the airline attempted to obtain a High Court injunction to block a potential strike but lost both the initial case and an appeal.
British Airways will be marking its centenary this Sunday but those celebrations are likely to be somewhat muted after today’s announcement.