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British Airways to operate reduced Sep 27 service after pilots call off strike

British Airways to operate reduced Sep 27 service after pilots call off strike

Grounded British Airways planes sit on the tarmac at Heathrow airport Terminal 5 in west London on Sep 9, 2019. (Photo: AFP/Ben STANSALL)

LONDON: British Airways said on Friday (Sep 20) it would operate about half its scheduled flights on Sep 27 after its pilots called off a planned third strike.

The British carrier had originally expected to cancel all flights and propose passengers affected either reimbursement or a fresh reservation.

The BALPA pilots union had Wednesday cancelled the latest walkout after two which last week cost the company dear while urging both sides get together for talks on resolving a pay dispute.

With the latest strike now off BA is trying to reprogramme services for next Friday but said in a statement seen by AFP it will be unable to operate a normal service.

The carrier did not say whether talks had resumed with the unions.

Urging "cool heads and pragmatism" BALPA had Wednesday warned the firm that if new negotiations were not forthcoming it reserved the right to call more stoppages.

Analysts say the carrier's reputation has been dented after pilots walked out for the first time in the company's 100-year history, sparked by a bitter and long-running feud over pay.

BA faced the embarrassment of grounding its entire UK fleet on Sep 9 and 10, causing the cancellation of about 1,600 flights.

The move sparked chaos for about 200,000 passengers due to fly in and out of London's Gatwick and Heathrow airports. Disruption continued into Sep 11 as many aircraft and pilots were in the wrong place to resume immediately.

BALPA, which estimates that last week's 48-hour strike cost the airline £80 million (US$98 million), rejected a July proposal for an 11.5 per cent pay rise over three years.

BALPA meanwhile called off five days of strikes planned for later this month as part of a disagreement with Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair.

The union said that despite an "acrimonious" relationship with Ryanair, which it said was "electing to punish pilots" by withdrawing travel benefits, BALPA wanted "meaningful negotiations."

The union stated that "UK pilot representatives consulted striking members yesterday (Thursday) and agreed to suspend any further strikes in order to pave the way for meaningful negotiations under the auspices of the UK conciliation service, ACAS."

In a statement, Ryanair called on the union to resume talks but said that "BALPA offer no reason for their repeated refusal to take up these invitations."

Previous strikes by Ryanair's British pilots did not cause major disruption.

Source: AFP/ec


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