British Airways pilots will begin a two-day strike at midnight in their ongoing dispute over pay and conditions.
Passengers are being told not to go to airports and BA says 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 will also be a knock-on effect to flights before and after the strike, because planes and pilots need to be in position for prior and subsequent journeys.
In its most recent announcement, BA said: “we remain ready and willing to return to talks with Balpa.”
Meanwhile Balpa indicated that “BA pilots could call off strike if airline agrees to negotiate on new proposal”. It says the strikes are a “last resort” born out of “enormous frustration” with airline management.
Pilots previously rejected a pay increase worth 11.5% over three years, which was proposed by the airline in July.
Balpa says 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.
BA says its pilots already receive “world-class” salaries. The airline believes the pay offer is “fair and generous”, and that it 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 says once the 11.5% pay deal has fully taken effect in three years’ time, the average BA captain would be taking home more than £200,000 a year, allowances included.
Two weeks ago, BA informed some customers they would have to re-book their flights next week due to the planned industrial action.
Unfortunately, due to “human error” the airline mistakenly sent emails to some customers whose flights were not actually affected, throwing BA’s customer service operations into a tailspin over the bank holiday weekend.
On Friday, BA said that the “vast majority” of affected customers had now either accepted a refund or rebooked, either on alternative dates or with other airlines.
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.
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