The CAA has contacted British Airways asking the carrier to explain and confirm how it complied with its obligation to re-route passengers affected by next month’s proposed pilots strike.
After months of failed negotiations with BA over pay, pilots union Balpa last week called three days’ strike action over 9-10 September and 27 September with there being “no prospect of any further meaningful talks”.
The announcement has plunged BA into chaos, with tens of thousands of passengers likely to be affected by the strikes.
A number of passengers were wrongly told by BA on Friday (23 August) and over the weekend their flights had been cancelled. BA has apologised for what it has described as an “error”.
However, many booked alternative travel arrangements only to be told hours later their original flight would go ahead as scheduled.
Customers due to travel on strike days have been given the option to rebook or receive a full refund. However, The Guardian reports BA passengers affected by the email error would be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.
BA has said it is dealing with a backlog of about 40,000 customer enquiries. Which? consumer rights expert Adam French said BA’s actions had “caused a lot of confusion and anxiety“ for passengers.
Now the CAA has intervened to get to the bottom of the chaos.
Director Richard Stephenson said on Tuesday (27 August): “We have been in contact with the airline to determine what has happened and are seeking an explanation to confirm how it complied with its re-routing obligations to consumers.
“Passengers who have seen their flights cancelled should be offered the choice of reimbursement for cancelled flights, alternate travel arrangements under comparable conditions at the earliest opportunity which includes flights on other airlines, or a new flight at a later date at the passenger’s convenience.
“We also expect airlines to proactively provide passengers with information about their rights when flights are cancelled.”
The CAA has insisted any passengers who booked alternative travel arrangements as a result of BA’s error “should not be left out of pocket”, adding any “reasonable costs” of re-booked flights should be claimed from the airline.
The authority has also reiterated to BA its consumer rights obligations.
TTG has approached BA for comment and also invited the airline to comment on speculation around the future of chief executive Alex Cruz.
A British Airways spokesperson told TTG BA had a number of agreements in place with other airlines to provide rebooking options, and was working to increase this further.
They added discussions were ongoing with partner airlines to put larger airlines on routes affected by the proposed strikes.
“We appreciate the frustration and inconvenience this strike action has caused our customers, and our teams are working tirelessly to help them,” said the spokesperson.
“As soon as we were issued with [strike] dates, we contacted airlines across the world to support with rebooking agreements, and since Friday we have been providing customers with the option to travel on other carriers.
“Our contact centres are operating 24/7, and we have brought in additional resource, with more than 500 colleagues working to support customers during this time.
“Our teams are providing customers whose flights have been cancelled with options to seek a full refund or rebook, including to a different date of travel, or flying with an alternative airline.”
BA has also dismissed suggestions chief executive Alex Cruz could leave the airline amid its troubles.