A strike by British Airways pilots, the first for 40 years, entered its second day on Tuesday (10 September) with pilots union Balpa claiming “virtually 100%” support for the action.
Thousands of BA pilots walked out on Monday (9 September) as part of a long-running dispute with BA over pay. It is understood more than 1,500 flights will be cancelled across the two strike days.
The disruption could, however, continue into Wednesday as BA seeks to reposition aircraft and crew to resume normal operations. Passengers have been warned cancellations could be “unexpected”.
Both BA and Balpa have said they are willing to return to talks. However, BA says Balpa is unprepared to do so free of pre-conditions, while Balpa says its BA members’ grievances go beyond just pay.
General secretary Brian Strutton has accused BA of cost-cutting and “dumbing down” the brand, telling the BBC there was also concerns among pilots about the airline’s direction.
On Monday, Balpa said its strike action was “supported virtually 100%”, adding the strength of feeling among pilots “should be a wake-up call for BA”.
However, the union added despite its offer of talks last week, “there are currently no further negotiations planned”.
“Pilots are standing firm and have shown just how resolute they are,” said Stratton. “British Airways needs to start listening to its pilots and actually come up with ways of resolving this dispute.”
By contrast, BA chief executive Alex Cruz said investment in the airline was at its highest level ever.
BA reiterated its readiness to talk on Tuesday morning. “We understand the frustration and disruption Balpa’s strike action has caused you,” said the airline in a statement addressing passengers. “After many months of trying to resolve the pay dispute, we are extremely sorry it has come to this.
“Unfortunately, with no detail from Balpa on which pilots would strike, we had no way of predicting how many would come to work or which aircraft they are qualified to fly, so we had no option but to cancel nearly 100% our flights.
“We remain ready and willing to return to talks with Balpa.”
Pilots union Balpa has been in dispute with BA for several months over pay, with the union claiming BA is failing to adequately reward its pilots for the role they play in delivering BA – and owner IAG’s – record profits.
IAG made around £3 billion last year, up 9%, some £2 billion of which was contributed by BA. Its pay offer, believed to be worth about 11.5% over three years, was rejected by Balpa’s BA members in July.