British Airways (BA) pilots have on Monday September 9, begun a two-day strike in an ongoing dispute over pay and conditions.
Tens of thousands of passengers have been told not to go to airports, and BA said most have made alternative arrangements.
Both BA and the pilots’ union Balpa have indicated that they are willing to start new talks.
Nonetheless, the vast majority of BA flights taking off from the UK on Monday and Tuesday have been cancelled.
There was also a knock-on effect to flights on Sunday, because planes and pilots needed to be in position for prior and subsequent journeys.
Dozens of flights were cancelled and further unforeseen cancellations could happen on Wednesday.
In its most recent announcement, BA said: “We remain ready and willing to return to talks with Balpa.”
Meanwhile, Balpa’s general secretary, Brian Strutton, said: “It is time to get back to the negotiating table and put together a serious offer that will end this dispute.”
It is the first time BA pilots have walked out and the action could cost the airline up to £40m a day.
Some 4,000 pilots will strike and almost all of the 1,600 flights that were due to fly will be grounded.
Pilots previously rejected a pay increase worth 11.5% over three years, which was proposed by the airline in July.
Balpa said that its members have taken lower pay rises and made sacrifices during more stringent times for the airline in recent years. The union insists that now that BA’s financial performance has improved – its parent company IAG reported a 9% rise in profits last year – they should see a greater share of the profits.
According to BA, its pilots already receive “world-class” salaries. The airline believes the pay offer is “fair and generous”, and that if it is good enough for BA cabin crew, ground staff and engineers – whose unions, Unite and the GMB, have both accepted it – it should be good enough for pilots, too.
The airline said once the 11.5% pay deal has fully taken effect in three years’ time, some BA captains could be taking home more than £200,000 a year, allowances included.
What rights do passengers have if their flight is affected?
BA advice says you can request a full refund, rebook your flight for another time in the next 355 days, or use the value of your fare to fly to a different destination.
If your flight has been cancelled due to a strike, the Civil Aviation Authority says passengers also have a legal right to a replacement flight at BA’s expense to get you to your destination, even if this means travelling with a different airline.
Most affected passengers would already have been in contact with BA, but they may not have considered additional costs, such as airport parking. They are advised to keep receipts for these extra costs, and BA said it would look at refunding them on a case-by-case basis.
The cost of separate hotel or accommodation bookings that cannot be used may need to be claimed from travel insurance.