British Airways pilots have staged their first walkout today in 40 years grounding more than 1,500 flights including nearly all of its UK services.
Around 4,000 are stopping flying today and tomorrow in industrial action, over pay. The pilots are also set to strike all day on 27 September. Most of the flights have been cancelled from Heathrow Airport Terminal 5.
The strike action is reportedly set to cost the airline around £40 million a day.
The British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa) has been in dispute with BA for several months over pay, with the union claiming BA is failing to adequately reward its pilots for the role they play in delivering BA – and owner IAG’s – record profits.
The airline has offered a pay hike of 11.5 per cent over three years which has been rejected by pilots, who are reportedly seeking a profit-sharing scheme.
Both BA and Balpa say they are ready to return to talks but both are saying the other is not prepared to negotiate or resolve the issue.
In a statement, the airline said it had “no way of predicting how many (pilots) would come to work or which aircraft they are qualified to fly”.
As a result, it said it had “no option but to cancel nearly 100%” of its flights.
BA said: “We understand the frustration and disruption Balpa’s strike action has caused our customers. After many months of trying to resolve the pay dispute, we are extremely sorry that it has come to this.”
BA says Balpa is refusing to agree to talks without preconditions, while Balpa says BA repeatedly refused to reconvene at government conciliation service Acas late last week.
Balpa said late last week, it could have called off proposed strikes if BA had agreed to come back to the negotiating table, putting a new proposal in a letter to BA CEO Alex Cruz.