British Airways passengers told to avoid travelling as 48-hour pilot strike begins

British Airways customers were told not to turn up at airports on Monday morning as flights were crippled due to pilots launching a 48-hour strike in a dispute over pay.

The Telegraph understands just five BA flights are taking off today from Britain’s busiest airport – three flights to Madrid, one to Tokyo and one to Cairo. 

Usually, the airline operates 850 flights every day from Heathrow, but members of the British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa) are taking their first ever industrial action against the airline, grounding “nearly 100 percent” of flights.

BA has offered pilots – who are typically on a six-figure salary – a pay rise of 11.5 percent over three years but Balpa says its members wanted a bigger share of the company’s profits.

And on Monday morning, passengers reacted angrily to the strikes, with those travelling on other airlines complaining about longer queues than usual.

A spokesman for the airline said: “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 per cent our flights.”

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

Heathrow airport will be worst affected as it is the busiest hub for BA, and up to 195,000 have been impacted. 

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

Source: The Telegraph