- Pilots vote to approve 11.5 per cent three-year pay deal
- Strikes cost British Airways €137 million
- The BALPA pilots union backtracked on demands for better terms and conditions
- Risk of a Christmas strike now averted
British Airways has finally resolved a long-running dispute over pay and conditions with its pilots, according to a press release from the BALPA pilots union who said its members voted 9 to 1 to accept the deal.
In September, pilots at the airline walked out on strike for the first time in 40-years, demanding the carrier improve its final offer for a three-year pay deal. The two-day walkout is said to have cost British Airways €137 million and led to the cancellation of 2,325 flights.
News of a potential breakthrough emerged last month when sources claimed a deal had been struck between British Airways and the BALPA pilots union. The union is said to have recommended a largely unchanged offer from what pilots had downed tools over, with the only change being that British Airways agreed to add an inflation protection clause to the deal.
The pay offer of an 11.5 per cent rise spread over three-years was accepted by other workgroups, including flight attendants and some ground crew earlier this year. The pilots union, however, insisted on additional elements such as a stock buyback option and various improvements to terms and conditions.
Some pilots said the walkout was about far more than just pay and suggested BALPA had called the strike because BA’s workforce had become disillusioned with the direction the company was heading.
However, Brexit uncertainty and a commitment from BA to hire ex-Thomas Cook pilots who had been made redundant in the airline’s demise is said to have swayed union officials to take a softer stance and recommend the deal to its members.
Last month, British Airways confirmed it had been holding talks with BALPA through an independent arbitration service and that a deal had been out to the 4,000 BALPA pilots for consultation. It now appears a formal ballot has been held and that pilots have approved the deal – As a result, the risk of a potential Christmas or New Year strike have been averted.
Earlier this year, Willie Walsh the head of BA’s parent company showed dismay with the lack of progress in negotiations, saying “there was a deal to be done” in what was widely seen as a rebuke to incumbent CEO Alex Cruz.