British Airways will cancel more than 300 flights over the Easter holiday period due to a strike by security officers employed by Heathrow Airport at its Terminal 5 hub.
In a statement, the airline said it had been forced to axe around 5 per cent of its daily schedule, or around 16 return flights, for the duration of the planned 10-day walkout, which is set to begin on March 31.
As well as cancelling approximately 320 flights, the airline also said that at the request of Heathrow Airport, it had removed tickets from sale in a bid to reduce pressure on security checkpoints.
“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,” a spokesperson for the airline said on Monday.
“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,” the statement continued.
“Our teams are continuing to work closely with Heathrow to ensure that our customers’ journeys run smoothly.”
Security officers represented by the Unite union have demanded an immediate 13.4 per cent pay rise to keep up with soaring inflation, but the airport operator is only willing to offer a 10 per cent increase.
Last-ditch talks held last week failed to break an impasse between the two sides, and the deadlock shows no signs of breaking ahead of the walkout getting underway on Friday.
Heathrow has asked all of its airlines to reduce capacity during the strike period, but British Airways, which exclusively uses Terminal 5, is set to be hardest hit by the third-part strike action.
The airline said it was axing some short-haul services in a bid to keep its long-haul network running as normal. Throughout the strike period, passengers are being encouraged to check in their luggage to avoid delays at security checkpoints.
Despite begging airlines to stop selling tickets, a spokesperson for Heathrow said the airport would operate “as normal” during the 10-day strike period and the entire management team would be on duty in terminal buildings in a bid to keep the operation running.
“We will not let these unnecessary strikes impact the hard-earned holidays of our passengers,” the airport said in a statement.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said security officers at the airport were struggling to make ends meet while earning “poverty wages”.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.