- "We have no other choice but to cancel about 100 percent of our flights," the BA official said in a statement.
- It is the first strike in the history of British Airways for pilots who will continue to move on Tuesday, as well as on September 27.
- British Airways is not the only airline to face a strike for its pilots.
British Airways on Monday canceled almost all flights in the United Kingdom on the first day of a major strike by its pilots. It is the first in British Airways’ history for wage demands.
“We have no other choice but to cancel about 100 percent of our flights,” the BA official said in a statement, adding that they were forced to take such action in the absence of any information from the Pilots’ Association about the number of participants in the strike. The strike could affect more than 100,000 passengers as the airline operates around 850 flights a day in the UK, most of which depart from London’s Heathrow and Gatwick airports.
The fifth terminal used by British Airways was almost desolate from its cafes with absence of passengers. The London City Airport business district, which is preferred by businessmen, will not be affected because its flights are operated by a British Airways subsidiary.
British Airways had originally told its customers that they might not be able to travel Monday because of the scale of the strike. The company, which is owned by the Spanish-British International Airlines Group (IAG), which also includes Spanish Iberia and Irish Air Lingus, has proposed that travelers’ tickets may be reimbursed for secure reservations on subsequent flights.
It is the first strike in the history of British Airways for pilots who will continue to move on Tuesday, as well as on September 27. Around 93 percent of the union’s pilots, about 4,000 pilots, voted for the strike.
The union decided to strike after the failure of wage negotiations and said pilots had made “sacrifices” in recent years and should take advantage of the company’s good performance. “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.”
The management of the company proposed an increase in wages by 11.5 percent over three months, but the union rejected the offer, and the company said that this could raise the wages of some pilots to £200,000 annually. The head of the group, Alex Cruz, told ITV that wage increases were “far greater than inflation,” recalling that 90 percent of British Airways employees had agreed to offer a pay rise.
Brian Stratton, secretary general of the union, said he regretted the unrest caused by the strike. “Not ready when we ask.” The union said in a tweet on Twitter that calculations indicate that a one-day strike costs British Airways £40 million (€44 million). She said that this figure should be compared to what the pilots are demanding, and the difference between what the administration proposes about the wages. She explained that the pilots’ demands do not exceed £5 million.
British Airways is not the only airline to face a strike for its pilots. Part of Ryanair pilots in the UK announced they would continue their move in September, although the unrest caused by their strike was limited. In 2018, Air France saw a long-running dispute with its pilots over wages, including days of strike before a deal was reached in October.
The strike comes at a critical time for British Airways, which has a symbolic and historic reputation and whose reputation has been damaged in recent years, especially because of the theft of financial data for hundreds of thousands of passengers last year. The British body for the protection of personal data imposed a £183 million fine on BA in this case. In May 2017, a major malfunction hit their systems due to a power problem, forcing them to cancel 726 trips, or about 28 percent of their trips for three days over a long weekend.