British Airways says it’s sorry for disruptions to its passengers’ travel schedules following two days of strike action.
Its pilots were engaged in a planned 48-hour walkout over pay, which began on Monday.
BA grounded almost 100% of its flights at Gatwick and Heathrow as a result, which hit thousands of travellers.
It is unclear what sort of impact the blow to passenger volumes – particularly at Heathrow Terminal 5 – has had on travel retail operators
Dufry, which operates duty free shops at Heathrow and Gatwick, declined to comment when approached.
‘KNOCK-ON EFFECT’ EXPECTED
In a statement released today, BA said: “BALPA, the pilots’ union regrettably went ahead with strike action on 9 and 10 September, which resulted in a large number of flight cancellations, for which we are very sorry.
“We are working hard to get back to normal and to get our customers to their destinations. The nature of our highly complex, global operation means that it will take some time to get back to a completely normal flight schedule so there will be a knock-on effect over the next few days.”
A further strike is slated for 27 September.
BA has proposed an 11.5% increase in pay over three years, but this has been rejected by the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA).
On Twitter, BA apologised for the disruption caused by the industrial action, urging customers not to go to the airport and instead visit ba.com/strike.
It says its teams are working hard to assist passengers and to provide adequate alternative options, such as full refunds or re-bookings to different dates, or with different airlines.
It previously stated: “We understand the frustration and disruption BALPA’s strike action has caused you. After many months of trying to resolve the pay dispute, we are extremely sorry that 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 per cent of our flights. We remain ready and willing to return to talks with BALPA.”
BA called the ‘unjustifiable strike action’ by BALPA ‘unacceptable’ when news of the strike dates were confirmed in August, brandishing the pilot’s association’s course of action ‘reckless’ following months of negotiations.
The airline says the proposed pay increase is a ‘very fair’ offer and one ‘well above the UK’s current rate of inflation’.
“By contrast to BALPA, [the deal] has been accepted by the members of the Unite and GMB trade unions, which represent nearly 90% of all British Airways colleagues including engineers, cabin crew and ground staff.
“In addition to basic pay, pilots also receive annual pay increments and regular flying allowances.”
In a statement issued on the first day of the strike action, BALPA said ‘the strength of feeling among pilots should be a wake-up call for British Airways’.
BALPA General Secretary Brian Strutton said: “Pilots are standing firm and have shown just how resolute they are today. British Airways needs to start listening to its pilots and actually come up with ways of resolving this dispute.
“We continue to pursue every avenue to find a solution to avoid industrial action and protect our customers’ travel plans.”