LONDON (Bloomberg) — British Airways (BA) scrapped almost all of its timetable for the next two days as pilots went on strike for the first time in decades in a labor dispute that could cost the carrier 80 million pounds (US$98 million).
The unit of IAG SA had “no option” but to cancel almost 100 per cent of services amid the action over pay, it said in an email Monday, amounting to more than 1,600 departures and arrivals. The British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) union has called for another strike on Sept. 27. The shares dropped as much as 3.1 per cent.
British Airways unit chief Alex Cruz told the BBC that the pilots had been offered a deal that would have lifted remuneration 11.5 per cent to 202,000 pounds, including benefits, making them among the best paid air crew in the world.
BALPA general secretary Brian Strutton said he didn’t recognize the figures and that most of the union’s members at BA will earn a lot less. The pilots are seeking “a share of the record profits just as they shared the pain in the bad times,” he added.
The disruption hit hardest in London, where BA operates from its twin hubs at Heathrow and Gatwick. The outages will extend to other locales such as Edinburgh, though London City, popular with business travelers, isn’t affected as those flights are operated by the CityFlyer affiliate.
The strike is the company’s first involving pilots since the 1970s and threatens the travel plans of customers at the tail end of the busy summer season. Affected passengers have been rebooked on other airlines where possible, offered alternate dates to fly, or been given refunds.