With two weeks to go until British Airways pilots plan to strike for the second time this month, the airline has begun offering affected passengers refunds or rebookings.
The industrial action called by the British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) is scheduled for Friday September 27, and follows the unprecedented worldwide grounding of British Airways’ fleet due to its previous strike on September 9 and 10.
With BALPA representing the majority of BA’s pilots, it seems that almost all flights will be affected. The one-day action will also likely have a knock-on effect, as staff and aircraft start the following day in the wrong place.
A BA spokesperson told Business Traveller:
“On August 23, BALPA, the pilots’ union, called a strike on 27 September. It is now a month since we shook hands on a pay deal. We urge them to call off their strike and return to negotiations.
“To give our customers as much certainty as possible, we are now contacting all those affected to offer them a full refund or a rebook on an alternative date, destination or airline.
“We are very sorry that BALPA’s actions will affect thousands more travel plans.”
BALPA took to Twitter yesterday to accuse BA of beginning flight cancellations yesterday in order to “avoid having to compensate affected passengers.”
However BA has countered this with the following statement:
“We have put forward new ideas through ACAS this week and have called on BALPA to meet us face-to-face as soon as possible to return to negotiations.
“However, we need to give our customers certainty, so we have contacted all those affected by the union’s strike on September 27.”
Under EU261, the European Union’s flight compensation regulation, airlines that give two week’s notice of cancellations are not required to pay out additional cash compensation, though all passengers are entitled to a full refund or alternative flight arrangement.
The union also said:
“BALPA set a gap between the first and second periods of strike action to give BA time to work with us to settle this dispute with their pilots.
“We had today been exchanging new ideas to do that via ACAS and so it irresponsible and inconsiderate to its customers that BA has pulled out and decided to start cancelling flights now, just to save money on compensation.
“BA did not respond to our latest proposals before cancelling these flights. Passengers who will be affected by these cancellations should know that we have given BA multiple opportunities to work with us so we could call off this action.”
BA says it has added staff to its support teams in order to answer passenger queries, though many are still reporting struggling to get through.
The strike is over pay, with pilots offered an 11.5 per cent pay increase over three years, which the union has rejected.
BA previously faced criticism after incorrectly emailing passengers stating that their flights had been cancelled due to strike action, even though they were flying on unaffected days.
The disruption comes as British Airways rounds off months of centenary celebrations.