MIAMI – British Airways pilots have overwhelmingly voted in favor of striking today once discussions between BALPA and the airline broke down after no agreement was reached.
Around 93% of the airline’s pilots voted for industrial action, and with BALPA (British Airline Pilots Association) representing 90% of the airline’s flight crew workforce, high amounts of disruption are likely.
British Airways said that they were “very disappointed” that the pilots union is threatening the “travel plans of thousands of customers.”
How did we get here
Talks about an increase in pay have been going on for some time between the airline and its unions. However, today’s vote showed that no agreement has been made between both parties.
The airline had initially submitted an offer of a pay increase of 11.5% over three years, but pilots rejected it with the airline saying the proposal was “fair and generous.”
BALPA feels that the offer could be “much better,” especially as IAG has reported healthy profits in recent years.
It is estimated that the airline paid out €1.3 billion in a dividend to reward its investors, which has only increased the union’s stance.
On Tuesday, British Airways will seek an injunction with the high court asking to block the strike action, which would see mass disruption across the airline’s route network during the busy summer period.
BALPA responded by saying, “further negotiations are on hold while we prepare to defend our right to take this action.”
BALPA general secretary, Brian Strutton, said that “we do not wish to inconvenience our customers, which is why we have tried to resolve this matter through negotiation starting last November. It is the airline who has regrettably chosen to drag this out into the summer months.”
He added that British Airways “must table a sensible improved offer if a strike is to be averted.”
Mass disruption ahead
Any strike action taken by BALPA will have a severe effect on the airline, seeing hundreds of flights potentially canceled.
Rob Burgess, the editor of the UK’s biggest frequent flyer website, headforpoints.com, said, “This is a very difficult situation for passengers. BALPA told its members not to vote for strike action unless they were 100% committed to walking out. We now know that 90% of members have voted with 93% of these in favor of strike action.”
“The unknown is whether BALPA goes for an all-out strike or staggers it across different aircraft types on different days. The pilots presumably have a decent financial cushion, and so you shouldn’t discount an ‘all-out’ strike.”
“Unfortunately, irrespective of what policies BA will put in place for rebooking, you need to be pragmatic. It is August. Other airlines will have sold virtually all their seats on key holiday routes and will be operating close to 100% of their available aircraft. You can’t rebook people when seats are not available, and BA is flying almost 1 million people per week.”
“Passengers are likely to receive an email saying their flight is canceled together with a refund and left to their own devices. Your travel insurance may prove inadequate if you have pre-paid accommodation or car hire. The positive news is that the CAA’s ruling against Ryanair last year means that EU261 compensation should be payable on top.”