British Airways cancels flights ahead of next pilots’ strike
A 24-hour walkout is scheduled for September 27.
British Airways has begun cancelling hundreds of flights ahead of the next strike by pilots.
Tens of thousands of passengers are expected to be affected by the disruption on September 27.
The 24-hour walkout follows a two-day strike on Monday and Tuesday when 1,700 flights due to carry 195,000 passengers were cancelled.
The dispute over pay involves members of the British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa).
British Airways (BA) has offered a pay rise of 11.5% over three years, which it says would boost the pay of some captains to £200,000, but Balpa says its members want a bigger share of the company’s profits.
Both sides have said they want to resume talks, but there is little sign of the deadlock being broken.
The airline began contacting affected passengers on Thursday afternoon, 15 days ahead of the strike.
Under EU law, passengers are only entitled to compensation if they receive less than 14 days’ notice of a cancellation.
Balpa said in a statement: “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 (the independent arbitration service) and so it’s 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.”
A spokeswoman for BA said: “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.”
When BA cancelled flights ahead of this week’s walkout, many passengers complained about difficulties contacting the airline, while some were sent cancellation emails in error.
The airline said it had added extra staff to its customer relations teams and had up to 900 people answering phones at peak times.
It had dealt with 491,000 calls and 125,000 tweets since the strikes were announced last month.
Adam French of consumer group Which? said: “British Airways must now proactively inform those affected by any fresh cancellations of their rights to be rerouted on the next available flight, even if this is with a rival airline.
“Unless a refund is vital to you, don’t be fobbed off by this option.
“A refund means your travel plans would no longer be the responsibility of the airline and you would not be entitled to any reasonable out-of-pocket expenses incurred because of the disruption.”
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