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BA pilots start two-day strike - leading to cancelled flights; They are taking industrial action on Monday and Tuesday, September 9 and 10.

Byline: James Rodger

British Airways flights were crippled today as pilots began a two-day strike.

They are taking industrial action on Monday and Tuesday, September 9 and 10.

Passengers have been warned that theirBritish Airwaysflights are likely to be cancelled on both days.

BA pilots who belong to the union British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa) voted in favour of walking out after failing to reach an agreement over pay with the airline, which offered an 11.5 per cent pay rise over three years.

BA said in a statement: "We understand the frustration and disruption Balpa's strike action has caused our customers. After many months of trying to resolve the pay dispute, we are extremely sorry that it has come to this.

"We remain ready and willing to return to talks with Balpa.

"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% of our flights."

BA has spent weeks offering refunds to passengers or the option to re-book to another date of travel or an alternative airline.

The airline operates up to 850 flights a day, with most expected to be cancelled, affecting up to 145,000 passengers.

Heathrow Airport will be worst affected as it is the busiest hub for BA.

Both sides have said they want to resume talks, but there is little or no sign of the deadlock being broken.

Balpa general secretary Brian Strutton said: "British Airways needs to wake up and realise its pilots are determined to be heard.

"They've previously taken big pay cuts to help the company through hard times. Now BA is making billions of pounds of profit, its pilots have made a fair, reasonable and affordable claim for pay and benefits.

"Balpa has consistently offered up chances for the company to negotiate a way forward. British Airways must now put the needs of its staff and passengers first and accept that its pilots will not be bullied or fobbed off.

"The company's leaders, who themselves are paid huge salaries and have generous benefits packages, won't listen, are refusing to negotiate and are putting profits before the needs of passengers and staff.

"This strike will have cost the company considerably more than the investment needed to settle this dispute.

"It is time to get back to the negotiating table and put together a serious offer that will end this dispute."

Balpa said the strike will cost BA [pounds sterling]40million a day, claiming the dispute could be settled for [pounds sterling]5million.

BA said its offer would take the pay of some captains to more than [pounds sterling]200,000.

Not only is strike action is planned for this week, but also for September 27, after the airline lost a Court of Appeal bid to stop the pilots walking out.

Last month, when the strike dates were announced, the airline said it was "likely" anybody booked on those days willnot be able to travel.

BA said it is "extremely sorry" and told customers affected they can expect a full refund.

Passengers should find out via email whether their flight is definitely cancelled.

Options on what to do next can also be found by logging into the BA website and visiting the Manage My Booking page.

Customers with flights on Monday and Tuesday can rebook cancelled trips or claim a refund on the British Airways website.

"Our customer teams -- supported by additional colleagues - have been working tirelessly to help as many of you as possible and to provide options, including a full refund or re-booking to a different date of travel or alternative airline," a statement said.

"We continue to be available for constructive talks with Balpa, on the basis that there are no pre-conditions to those talks.

"If you have a flight booked with us on those dates, it is likely that you will not be able to travel as planned due to Balpa's strike action.

"We are offering all affected customers full refunds or the option to re-book to another date of travel or alternative airline."

The union said pilots should be given a greater share of the "massive profits", in part for their sacrifices and efforts to help the airline recover from recent struggles.

BA defended the offer as "fair" and said it had already been endorsed by the Unite and GMB trade unions to the almost 90 per cent of BA staff they represent.

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British Airways planes

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Publication:Coventry Telegraph (Coventry, England)
Date:Sep 9, 2019
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